Computer Architecture Group
BIMPA Project: Biologically inspired massively parallel architectures
- computing beyond a million processors
The human brain remains as one of the great frontiers of science - how does this organ upon which we all depend so critically actually do its job? A great deal is known about the underlying technology - the neuron - and we can observe large-scale brain activity through techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging, but this knowledge barely starts to tell us how the brain works. Something is happening at the intermediate levels of processing that we have yet to begin to understand, but the essence of the brain's information processing function probably lies in these intermediate levels. To get at these middle layers requires that we build models of very large systems of spiking neurons, with structures inspired by the increasingly detailed findings of neuroscience, in order to investigate the emergent behaviours, adaptability and fault-tolerance of those systems.
Our goal in this project is to deliver machines of unprecedented cost-effectiveness for this task, and to make them readily accessible to as wide a user base as possible. We will also explore the applicability of the unique architecture that has emerged from the pursuit of this goal to other important application domains.
In Cambridge we are performing architectrual exploration use large numbers of FPGAs to prototype systems.
The other partners on this project are:
- Prof. Steve Furber (University of Manchester APT Group) who is refining the SpiNNaker architecture.
- Prof. Andrew Brown (University of Southampton ESD group) who is looking at algorithm mapping.
- Prof. David Allterton (University of Sheffield ACSE group) who is investigating parallel languages.
Funded by EPSRC - grant code EP/G015783/1