PAX: A mixed hardware/software simulation platform for spiking neural networks.

Renaud S, Tomas J, Lewis S, Bornat Y, Daouzli A, Rudolph M, Destexhe A and Saïghi S.

Neural Networks 23: 905-916, 2010.

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Many hardware-based solutions now exist for the simulation of bio-like neural networks. Less conventional than software-based systems, these types of simulators generally combine digital and analog forms of computation. In this paper we present a mixed hardware-software platform, specifically designed for the simulation of spiking neural networks, using conductance-based models of neurons and synaptic connections with dynamic adaptation rules (Spike-Timing-Dependent Plasticity). The neurons and networks are configurable, and are computed in "biological real time" by which we mean that the difference between simulated time and simulation time is guaranteed lower than 50 ms. After presenting the issues and context involved in the design and use of hardware-based spiking neural networks, we describe the analog neuromimetic integrated circuits which form the core of the platform. We then explain the organization and computation principles of the modules within the platform, and present experimental results which validate the system. Designed as a tool for computational neuroscience, the platform is exploited in collaborative research projects together with neurobiology and computer science partners.
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