PetaVision is a functional model of the visual cortex that enables
petascale simulation of mammalian vision. The PetaVision Team
implemented its massively parallel simulation on the Roadrunner
supercomputer and, in the process, set a world speed record for
scientific computation—1.144 petaflops.
The team created a completely new methodology for neural
computation. Members defined a set of computational primitives for
integrate-and-fire neurons, then developed a novel software
architecture to emulate cortical columns in hardware. The resulting
billion-neuron simulation was run in Poughkeepsie, New York, where
Roadrunner was still being tested by IBM. The simulation was the first
of its kind in the world and the first scientific calculation to break
the petaflop barrier.
Widely reported in the media, the PetaVision Team’s success has had
tremendous impact on the emerging field of synthetic cognition and
nonconventional high-performance computing in general. It allows Los
Alamos to lead in the important new area of large-scale neural
computing, which has enormous potential for programmatic growth.