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IBM Cat Brain Connection

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IBM has created a supercomputer with the equivalent of a cat’s brain. According to Forbes, “IBM has simulated a brain with 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses–about the equivalent of a cat’s cortex, or 4.5% of a human brain.” The project is partly funded by $20 million from the Department of Defense.

Supercomputers of today can perform in hours what would take a powerful desktop computer thousands of years. However, they cannot handle complex functions such as perception or pattern recognition. While scientists still don’t fully understand the far more organic supercomputer between our ears, they can certainly do their best to model it.

The “Blue Matter” system was profiled today at the SC09 high-performance computing conference in Portland, Ore.

Using archived magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and scanned data, a Blue Gene supercomputer assembles data into a cohesive unit in order to process. IBM plans to study the brain for ways it can mimic cognitive abilities.

“[The system] will use more than 144 terabytes of memory and a cluster of around 150,000 processors, capable of about half a petaflop of processing power, or 500 trillion floating point operations a second. At that rate, it could perform in about eight hours the same work that would take a typical Intel-powered laptop around 500 years.” (Forbes, 2009)

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