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Neurogrid: A Mixed-Analog-Digital Multichip System for Large-Scale Neural Simulations

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10 Author(s)
Benjamin, B.V. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA, USA ; Peiran Gao ; McQuinn, E. ; Choudhary, S.
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In this paper, we describe the design of Neurogrid, a neuromorphic system for simulating large-scale neural models in real time. Neuromorphic systems realize the function of biological neural systems by emulating their structure. Designers of such systems face three major design choices: 1) whether to emulate the four neural elements-axonal arbor, synapse, dendritic tree, and soma-with dedicated or shared electronic circuits; 2) whether to implement these electronic circuits in an analog or digital manner; and 3) whether to interconnect arrays of these silicon neurons with a mesh or a tree network. The choices we made were: 1) we emulated all neural elements except the soma with shared electronic circuits; this choice maximized the number of synaptic connections; 2) we realized all electronic circuits except those for axonal arbors in an analog manner; this choice maximized energy efficiency; and 3) we interconnected neural arrays in a tree network; this choice maximized throughput. These three choices made it possible to simulate a million neurons with billions of synaptic connections in real time-for the first time-using 16 Neurocores integrated on a board that consumes three watts.

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Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:102 ,  Issue: 5 )