Medical Technology

Can supercomputers really keep up With the Human Brain?

A mature brain has around 86 billion neurons and even more supercomputing power to observe the human brain’s entire structure.

There are trillions of neural connections that make up the circuitry that controls everything from breathing to reasoning, to walking. The Human Brain Project scientists are working to create new computing tools that allow them to zoom in on every synapse, peer inside cells, or zoom out to view all brain regions at once.

Imaging the human brain at a cellular level will require several petabytes of data, researchers from the Human Brain Project report in the journal Science. If you own an old smartphone or tablet with 32GB of storage it would require more than 31,000 of them to get a single petabyte of storage.

Scientists say that to image the entire brain with an electron microscope, you’ll need more data than one exabyte. This is more than a million petabytes.

Giacomo Indiveri PhD, professor of neuroinformatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland believes that we need to fundamentally change how computers are built. He gave the keynote speech at the October Human Brain Project Summit and warned that we will be using 20% of the world’s electricity for computing by 2025.

Researchers are working on the first two exascale supercomputers in order to satisfy the computing requirements of the search to trace every atom of the human brain. This will be done within five years. When they’re finished, these machines will give brain scientists supercomputers powerful enough to explore the human brain in all its complexities.

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