Advances in neuroscience uncover the mechanisms employed by the brain to efficiently solve complex learning tasks with very limited resources. However, the efficiency is often lost when one tries to port these findings to a silicon substrate, since brain-inspired algorithms often make extensive use of complex functions, such as random number generators, that are expensive to compute on standard general purpose hardware. The prototype chip of the second generation SpiNNaker system is designed to overcome this problem. Low-power advanced RISC machine (ARM) processors equipped with a random number generator and an exponential function accelerator enable the efficient execution of brain-inspired algorithms. We implement the recently introduced reward-based synaptic sampling model that employs structural plasticity to learn a function or task. The numerical simulation of the model requires to update the synapse variables in each time step including an explorative random term. To the best of our knowledge, this is the most complex synapse model implemented so far on the SpiNNaker system. By making efficient use of the hardware accelerators and numerical optimizations, the computation time of one plasticity update is reduced by a factor of 2. This, combined with fitting the model into to the local static random access memory (SRAM), leads to 62% energy reduction compared to the case without accelerators and the use of external dynamic random access memory (DRAM). The model implementation is integrated into the SpiNNaker software framework allowing for scalability onto larger systems. The hardware-software system presented in this paper paves the way for power-efficient mobile and biomedical applications with biologically plausible brain-inspired algorithms.
|Number of pages
|IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems
|Published - 27 Mar 2019