Power-efficient simulation of detailed cortical microcircuits on SpiNNaker

Thomas Sharp, Francesco Galluppi, Alexander Rast, Steve Furber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Computer simulation of neural matter is a promising methodology for understanding the function of the brain. Recent anatomical studies have mapped the intricate structure of cortex, and these data have been exploited in numerous simulations attempting to explain its function. However, the largest of these models run inconveniently slowly and require vast amounts of electrical power, which hinders useful experimentation. SpiNNaker is a novel computer architecture designed to address these problems using low-power microprocessors and custom communication hardware. We use four SpiNNaker chips (of a planned fifty thousand) to simulate, in real-time, a cortical circuit of ten thousand spiking neurons and four million synapses. In this simulation, the hardware consumes 100. nJ per neuron per millisecond and 43. nJ per postsynaptic potential, which is the smallest quantity reported for any digital computer. We argue that this approaches fast, power-feasible and scientifically useful simulations of large cortical areas. © 2012 Elsevier B.V..
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2012


  • Cortex
  • Energy
  • Microcircuit
  • Power
  • Real-time
  • Simulation
  • Spiking


Dive into the research topics of 'Power-efficient simulation of detailed cortical microcircuits on SpiNNaker'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this