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Supercomputing Hardware News

A Million Node Supercomputer 116

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the scooping-doctor-soong dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Veteran of microcomputing Steve Furber, in his role as ICL Professor of Computer Engineering in the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, has called upon some old friends for his latest project: a brain-simulating supercomputer based on more than a million ARM processors." More detailed information can be found in the research paper.
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A Million Node Supercomputer

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  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @10:37AM (#36683624) Homepage

    OK, a mouse brain has about 1/1000 the mass of a human brain. So build a mouse brain with 1000 ARM CPUs, which ought to fit in one rack, and demonstrate the full range of mouse behavior, from vision to motor control.

    I read the paper. It's a "build it and they will come" design. There's no insight into how to get intelligence out of the thing, just faith that if we hook enough nodes together, something will happen.

    About 20 years ago, I went to hear Rodney Brooks (the artificial insect guy from MIT) talk about the next project after his reactive insects. He was talking about getting to human-level AI by building Cog [mit.edu], a robot head and hand that was supposed to "act human". I asked him why, since he'd already done insect-level AI, he didn't try mouse-level AI next, since that might be within reach. He said "Because I don't want to go down in history as the man who created the world's best artificial mouse".

    Cog turned out to be a dead end. It was rather embarrassing to all concerned. As one grad student said, "It just sits there. That's all it does."

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @10:38AM (#36683644)
    On the other hand, if you are simulation a brain, I suspect that you don't really need to have fast communication between any two nodes; localized subclusters should communicate quickly, with slower communication between clusters. This wouldn't work for *all* problems, but for the specific problem they mentioned it seems to be a workable solution.
  • Re:Oblig. Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Psion (2244) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @11:06AM (#36683990)
    No, no, no! Given the intended purpose, the question is: Will it run me?

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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