The University of Manchester has announced that it has switched on its new SpiNNaker supercomputer which was inspired by the workings of the human brain. The computer is primarily aimed at three areas of research; neuroscience, robotics, and computer science. The institute said that the machine’s massively parallel computing platform makes it suitable for advancing these fields.
According to the university, the million-processor-powered computer is different to other computers because it uses parallelisation to communicate data, in a similar manner to the human brain. Parallelisation means that the computer sends billions of small bits of data at the same time to different destinations rather than sending information from point A to point B.
Discussing the advancement, Steve Furber, Professor of Computer Engineering, said:
“SpiNNaker completely re-thinks the way conventional computers work. We’ve essentially created a machine that works more like a brain than a traditional computer, which is extremely exciting.
The ultimate objective for the project has always been a million cores in a single computer for real time brain modelling applications, and we have now achieved it, which is fantastic.”
The SpiNNaker machine is exciting for the reason that it might be able to help solve how the human brain works. Researchers will be able to simulate a billion simple neurons or millions of neurons “with complex structure and internal dynamics”. While the machine is capable of a lot, the human brain has 100 billion neurons so the computer may not unlock all of the mysteries that exist.
You can find out more about the SpiNNaker project over at the University of Manchester website.