The cat is out of the bag

Rajagopal Ananthanarayanan, Steven K. Esser, Horst D. Simon, Dharmendra S. Modha

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

203 Scopus citations


In the quest for cognitive computing, we have built a massively parallel cortical simulator, C2, that incorporates a number of innovations in computation, memory, and communication. Using C2 on LLNL's Dawn Blue Gene/P supercomputer with 147, 456 CPUs and 144 TB of main memory, we report two cortical simulations - at unprecedented scale - that effectively saturate the entire memory capacity and refresh it at least every simulated second. The first simulation consists of 1.6 billion neurons and 8.87 trillion synapses with experimentally-measured gray matter thalamocortical connectivity. The second simulation has 900 million neurons and 9 trillion synapses with probabilistic connectivity. We demonstrate nearly perfect weak scaling and attractive strong scaling. The simulations, which incorporate phenomenological spiking neurons, individual learning synapses, axonal delays, and dynamic synaptic channels, exceed the scale of the cat cortex, marking the dawn of a new era in the scale of cortical simulations. Copyright 2009 ACM.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Conference on High Performance Computing Networking, Storage and Analysis - SC '09
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
ISBN (Print)9781605587448
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this paper was sponsored by Defense Ad-vanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Sciences O±ce (DSO),Program: Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic ScalableElectronics (SyNAPSE), Issued by DARPA CMO under ContractNo. HR0011 ¡ 09 ¡ C ¡ 0002. The views and conclusions con-tained in this document are those of the authors and should notbe interpreted as representing the o±cial policies, either expresslyor implied, of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agencyor the U.S. Government.This work was supported in part by the Director, O±ce of Science,of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.We would like to thank Dave Fox and Steve Louis for Dawn tech-nical support at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, andMichel McCoy and the DOE NNSA Advanced Simulation andComputing Program for time on Dawn. Lawrence Livermore Na-tional Laboratory is operated by Lawrence Livermore NationalSecurity, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nu-clear Security Administration under Contract DE-AC52¡07NA27344.This research used resources of the IBM-KAUST WatsonShaheenBG/P system. We are indebted to Fred Mintzer and Dave Singerfor their help.We are thankful to Raghav Singh and Shyamal Chandra for theircollaboration on BrainCam. We are grateful to Tom Binzegger,Rodney J. Douglas, and Kevan A. C. Martin for sharing thalamo-cortical connectivity data. Mouse, Rat, Cat, and Human photos:°c / Emilia Stasiak, Fabian Guignard, VasiliyYakobchuk, Ina Peters.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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