Human Brain Project

In the Human Brain Project (HBP) two hardware platforms for the simulation of large-scale spiking neural networks have been developed and made publicly available. The Cognitronics and Sensor Systems group contributes benchmarks for fair comparison of platform performance and efficiency.

The HBP is a European Commission Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship project. It aims at putting in place a cutting-edge, ICT-based scientific Research Infrastructure for brain research, cognitive neuroscience and brain-inspired computing. The project promotes collaboration across the globe, and is committed to driving forward European industry. After finishing its first (ramp-up) phase in march 2016 the HBP is currently in SGA1 (Scientific Grant Agreement 1). 

The Cognitronics and Sensor Systems group, supervised by Prof. Rückert, is part of the subproject 9 “Neuromorphic Computing Platform”, which aims at implementing large-scale neuromorphic hardware platforms and corresponding software allowing the simulation of bio-mimetic spiking neural networks at the size of millions of neurons with billions of synapses. Both platforms, the mixed-signal (analog neuron circuits, digital network) BrainScaleS-system and the fully digital SpiNNaker-system went operational at the end of the ramp-up phase.

In our group, the aim is to invent and implement backend-agnostic neuromorphic benchmarks to compare both platforms and software simulations as well as to evaluate performance and efficiency of different approaches to neuromorphic computing. Inherent problems of designing fair and comparable benchmarks are the adequate usage of every backend and knowing its limitations in the hardware and the provided software.

The main aim is not to set up a competition between hardware platforms: we want to help potential users to identify the most suitable platform for executing their applications, reveal bottlenecks as targets for improvements in future hardware systems and expose bugs in the software stack.

The developed software is open-source, so that everyone can test available hardware platforms or even add own backends or benchmarks. On top of that, our software is highly modular to allow a flexible and maintainable implementation of a benchmarks.


HBP project website


This research is supported by the European Union’s FP7 programme under Grant Agreement no. 604102, and from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under FPA No / 650003 and under Grant Agreement no. 720270 (Human Brain Project Specific Grant Agreement 1).


Dipl.-Ing. Marc Hesse