Transport-Independent Protocols for Universal AER Communications
The emergence of Address-Event Representation (AER) as a general communications method across a large variety of neural devices suggests that they might be made interoperable. If there were a standard AER interface, systems could communicate using native AER signalling, allowing the construction of large-scale, real-time, heterogeneous neural systems. We propose a transport-agnostic AER protocol that permits direct bidirectional event communications between systems over Ethernet, and demonstrate practical implementations that connect a neuromimetic chip: SpiNNaker, both to standard host PCs and to real-time robotic systems. The protocol specifies a header and packet format that supports a variety of different possible packet types while coping with questions of data alignment, time sequencing, and packet compression. Such a model creates a flexible solution either for real-time communications between neural devices or for live spike I/O and visualisation in a host PC. With its standard physical layer and flexible protocol, the specification provides a prototype for AER protocol standardisation that is at once compatible with legacy systems and expressive enough for future very-large-scale neural systems.
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