Supercomputer takes 40 minutes to model one second of human brain activity

The findings have encouraged scientists who said that once exascale computers are developed, it could be possible to simulate the entire brain on a neural scale.

By Ananth Bailiga

The Japanese supercomputer K Computer successfully calculated and created a simulation of just one second of human brain activity, taking 40 minutes to do so.

The K computer, the fourth most powerful computer in the world, used its 705,024 processor cores and 1.4 million GB of RAM to process the data, but still took 40 minutes to process a single second of human brain activity.


Researchers were using an open source software called Neural Simulation Technology to replicate a neuronal network consisting of 1.73 billion neurons and 10.4 trillion synaptic connections.

This still represents only one percent of the neuronal network of the brain, but researchers were focused on testing the limits of the simulation technology and the power of the K computer, not seeking insights into brain function.

The simulation has given researchers insight into the capabilities of next generation of supercomputers, called exascale computers, which will be capable of carrying out a quintillion floating point operations per second, considered to be the same processing speed as the brain.

At present there are no exascale computers, but Intel has said it aims to develop such a machine by 2018.


“If petascale computers like the K computer are capable of representing one per cent of the network of a human brain today, then we know that simulating the whole brain at the level of the individual nerve cell and its synapses will be possible with exascale computers -- hopefully available within the next decade,” said Markus Diesmann, one of the scientists involved in the experiment.

[The Independent] [Fujitsu K Computer]

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