Dubbed as the world’s biggest brain, the supercomputer SpiNNaker is out in the public and ready to operate. The SpiNNaker or Spiking Neural Network Architecture is the University of Manchester’s newest invention.
It is a giant computer that uses approximately one million processors, 7 terabytes of RAM, and 1,200 interconnected circuit boards, making it one of the fastest processors available in the market today.
Twelve years in the making, this latest technology breakthrough has an investment of $15 million dollars. A fairly large investment in imitating the workings of the human brain.
According to scientists, this computer is engineered to mimic the firing of neurons in the human brain and simulates more neurons in real-time. It is able to send small bits of information to multiple destinations simultaneously through a “massively parallel” computing platform, the way the human brain does.
The SpiNNaker has a biologically-inspired neural network, which aims to understand how information is processed in the brain. This will then be a basis for creating better technology that can be engineered to work with the brain.
Aside from this purpose, this technology can also be used for research in robotics and computer science. SpiNNaker is even said to control a SpOmnibot mobile robot that uses the computer to interpret data from its vision sensors.
Project member Steve Furber explained:
“Its primary task is to support partial brain models: for example, models of cortex, of basal ganglia, or multiple regions expressed typically as networks of spiking neurons.”
With the SpiNNaker’s brain-like capacities, our curiosity might lead us to think if it can function exactly the way a human brain does. But it seems farther from the truth because the human brain has 100 billion core processors that simultaneously fire and transmit signals to multiple destinations while the SpiNNaker has only a million.
Despite the SpiNNaker’s computing power and brain-like capabilities, it is short to behave like a human brain. In fact, it functions only a fraction of the human brain’s ability to communicate.
Furber admitted that simulating a human brain isn’t possible. The SpiNNaker’s advanced technology can only mimic the function of a mouse’s brain, which is 1,000 times smaller than the human brain.
Still, it works like a brain that simulates more neurons in real time compared to other computers. Additionally, it can provide more significant insight into neuroscience research and is the starting point where scientists can create detailed brain models in the future.
With this being said, the human brain is still the most powerful mental functioning machine there is.
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