Sunday, April 29, 2007

Supercomputer Simulates Half a Mouse Brain

reports on a recent cortical simulation experiment run on one of the
older IBM
BlueGene/L supercomputer prototypes. The goal of the researchers is
to create a
complete, real-time simulation of a mouse brain. The current run
simulated only half of a scaled down mouse brain consisting of 8000
neurons, each with 6300 synapses. Half of a real mouse brain has about
eight million neurons, each with 8000 synapses. The IBM BlueGene/L
prototype used, probably the DD2, has
a relatively modest 4096 processers with 256MB of memory each. The
BlueGene/L computers run SUSE SLES 9 Linux and are among the fastest
computers on Earth. While the DD2 comes in at only 11 TeraFLOPS, the
production model BlueGene/L tops the list at 360 TeraFLOPS. The computer
could run a simulation of this
complexity with a resolution of 1ms and a neural firing rate of 1Hz, or
about 1/10 of realtime. So one second of simulated mouse
thoughts took 10 seconds to calculate. The researchers claim to have seen
"biologically consistent dynamical properties", including the
spontaneous formation of neuron groups and the staggered, co-ordinated
firing of synapses. A few more details can be found in the short project
description document, Towards Real-Time,
Mouse-Scale Cortical Simulations (PDF format).


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