February 28, 2021

CloudBrain: Online neural computation in the cloud

Neuromorphic computing currently relies heavily on complicated hardware design to implement asynchronous, parallel and very large-scale brain simulations. This dependency slows down the migration of biological insights into technology. It typically takes several years from idea to finished hardware and once developed the hardware is not broadly available to the community. In this contribution, we present the CloudBrain research platform, an alternative based on modern cloud computing and event stream processing technology. Typical neuromorphic design goals, such as small form factor and low power consumption, are traded for 1) no constraints on the model elements, 2) access to all events and parameters during and after the simulation, 3) online reconfiguration of the network, and 4) real-time simulation. We explain principles for how neuron, synapse and network models can be implemented and we demonstrate that our implementation can be used to control a physical robot in real-time. CloudBrain is open source and can run on commodity hardware or in the cloud, thus providing the community a new platform with a different set of features supporting research into, for example, neuron models, structural plasticity and three-factor learning.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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