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Darwin: a neuromorphic hardware co-processor based on Spiking Neural Networks



Broadly speaking, the goal of neuromorphic engineering is to build computer systems that mimic the brain. Spiking Neural Network (SNN) is a type of biologically-inspired neural networks that perform information processing based on discrete-time spikes, different from traditional Artificial Neural Network (ANN). Hardware implementation of SNNs is necessary for achieving high-performance and low-power. We present the Darwin Neural Processing Unit (NPU), a neuromorphic hardware co-processor based on SNN implemented with digitallogic, supporting a maximum of 2048 neurons, 20482 = 4194304 synapses, and 15 possible synaptic delays. The Darwin NPU was fabricated by standard 180 nm CMOS technology with an area size of 5 ×5 mm2 and 70 MHz clock frequency at the worst case. It consumes 0.84 mW/MHz with 1.8 V power supply for typical applications. Two prototype applications are used to demonstrate the performance and efficiency of the hardware implementation.



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Correspondence to Zonghua Gu.

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Shen, J., Ma, D., Gu, Z. et al. Darwin: a neuromorphic hardware co-processor based on Spiking Neural Networks. Sci. China Inf. Sci. 59, 1–5 (2016).

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  • neuromorphic computing
  • Spiking Neural Networks (SNN)
  • digital VLSI


  • 023401


  • 类脑硬件
  • 脉冲神经网络
  • 时分复用
  • 数字超大规模集成电路
  • 可配置神经网络