Mouse brain simulated at 1/10 of real-time

Update: the BlueGene/L instance used here is only 1/32 of the size of the one deployed at LLNL, so we are still within the high bound after all. On the other hand, it remains to be seen how accurate the model is compared to a functional neuron.

Dharmendra S Modha posts an article about a recent result presented at CoSyNe 2007.

We deployed the simulator on a 4096-processor BlueGene/L supercomputer with 256 MB per CPU. We were able to represent 8,000,000 neurons (80% excitatory) and 6,300 synapses per neuron in the 1 TB main memory of the system. Using a synthetic pattern of neuronal interconnections, at a 1 ms resolution and an average firing rate of 1 Hz, we were able to run 1s of model time in 10s of real time!

This is excellent news, since it will now be possible to figure out what biological modeling aspects are important to functionality.

Since the human brain has 100 billion neurons, this represents 1/10,000 of a human brain. The computer was a $100 million BlueGene/L. So an improvement of 10,000,000 is required in order to model a human brain for $1M in real time.

However, the BlueGene/L is two years old, and it is about 20 times less efficient compared to commodity hardware (based on a quoted 360 teraflops). So the real improvement required is only around 100,000.

Based on this data, the human brain requires 10 Exa CPS, one order of magnitude above the high estimate use in my calculator. Human equivalent for $1M would be available around the year 2023.

Hardware specifically suitable for this application may bring this back to 1 Exa CPS and pull this back to the year 2020.

4 Responses to Mouse brain simulated at 1/10 of real-time

  1. How does a mouse brain compare to a grey parrot brain? I’d think parrots could be a *very* interesting target for AI. Google for Alex the parrot… Irene Pepperberg of Brandeis University claims that Alex is as smart as a five-year-old human.


  2. miron says:

    Great, a non-spam comment! 🙂

    Parrots probably don’t breed nearly as much as mice, making them less “efficient” for lab work. They are monogamous too.

    But it would be very interesting to find out why they pack much more human-like intelligence than mice into about the same size cortex.

    I just had an idea! If a simulated parrot gets bored (Alex seems to), then we can just reset it. I’m only half joking…

  3. […] Mouse cortex simulated at 1/10 of real-time [Cross posted from my blog] […]

  4. […] up to 100 million neurons seems pretty aggressive. Not sure why they would be so much ahead of the IBM effort using x86 CPUs, even if they have thousands of […]

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