They create a supercomputer that simulates the human brain

Isbel Lázaro.

supercomputadora que simula el cerebro humano

Inspenet, December 14, 2023.

The team of researchers at the International Center for Neuromorphic Systems (ICNS) at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, has presented the first supercomputer that simulates the human brain .

DeepSouth: the supercomputer that simulates the human brain

Known as DeepSouth, this supercomputer employs a neuromorphic system that mimics biological processes and uses hardware to efficiently emulate extensive networks of active neurons, reaching a performance of 228 trillion synaptic operations per second . This figure rivals the estimated rate of operations in the human brain.

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Professor André van Schaik, director of ICNS, highlights that DeepSouth differs from other supercomputers by being specifically designed to operate as networks of neurons, which implies lower energy consumption and greater efficiency. This contrasts with supercomputers optimized for more traditional computational loads, which tend to consume significant amounts of power.

Progress in our understanding of how the brain computes using neurons is hampered by our inability to simulate brain networks at scale. Simulating spiking neural networks on standard computers using multicore graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) is too slow and energy intensive. Our system will change that”said Professor van Schaik.

This platform will improve our understanding of the brain and develop brain-scale computing applications in various fields, including large-scale sensing, biomedical, robotics, space and artificial intelligence applications ,” he added.

Likewise, Professor van Schaik explained that this practical advance will lead to improvements in smart devices such as mobile phones, sensors for the manufacturing and agricultural industries, as well as more sophisticated and energy-efficient artificial intelligence applications. In addition, it will enable a deeper understanding of the functioning of a human brain, both in health and disease states.

It should be noted that the ICNS team at the University of Western Sydney collaborated closely with various partners specialized in the neuromorphic field to carry out this innovative project, with the participation of researchers from the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and the University from Aachen in Germany.

DeepSouth will be based at Western Sydney University and will play a key role in developing the region as an advanced technology hub. It is expected to come into operation in April 2024 .

What is a supercomputer and what is it for?

They are powerful devices defined by their ability to process data at speeds measured in FLOPS, dedicated to executing complex calculations and simulations in crucial areas such as research, artificial intelligence and big data computing.

However, what was once the exclusive preserve of laboratories and research centers has today transcended those limits to find its place at the very core of the operations of numerous companies.

Today’s world-class supercomputers boast the astonishing ability to perform more than 10¹⁵ operations per second, a million billion in colossal terms (petascal performance). However, this mastery of speed does not stop there; High-end elite systems exceed 10¹⁷ operations per second, at least a hundred million million, projecting a scale of performance prior to the exascale era.

A new era is on the horizon, where the next generation of supercomputers (exascale) promises to reach the impressive figure of more than one trillion, 10¹⁸ operations per second . This breakthrough redefines the limits of computing power, taking humanity into uncharted territories of computing power.

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