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Efficient Parallel Simulation of Large-Scale Neuronal Networks on Clusters of Multiprocessor Computers

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Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNTCS,volume 4641)


To understand the principles of information processing in the brain, we depend on models with more than 105 neurons and 109 connections. These networks can be described as graphs of threshold elements that exchange point events over their connections.

From the computer science perspective, the key challenges are to represent the connections succinctly; to transmit events and update neuron states efficiently; and to provide a comfortable user interface. We present here the neural simulation tool NEST, a neuronal network simulator which addresses all these requirements. To simulate very large networks with acceptable time and memory requirements, NEST uses a hybrid strategy, combining distributed simulation across cluster nodes (MPI) with thread-based simulation on each computer. Benchmark simulations of a computationally hard biological neuronal network model demonstrate that hybrid parallelization yields significant performance benefits on clusters of multi-core computers, compared to purely MPI-based distributed simulation.


  • Target Node
  • Spike Time
  • Parallel Simulation
  • Stimulation Device
  • Node List

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© 2007 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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Plesser, H.E., Eppler, J.M., Morrison, A., Diesmann, M., Gewaltig, MO. (2007). Efficient Parallel Simulation of Large-Scale Neuronal Networks on Clusters of Multiprocessor Computers. In: Kermarrec, AM., Bougé, L., Priol, T. (eds) Euro-Par 2007 Parallel Processing. Euro-Par 2007. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 4641. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-540-74465-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-540-74466-5

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