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Norcott Technologies | Human Brain Project Update

Human Brain Project Update

Norcott-made printed circuit boards can now be seen in the first SpiNNaker machine.

Earlier this year we announced that we had completed the manufacture of a set of highly complex printed circuit boards for use in the £1bn Human Brain Project.  The specially-designed boards were for researchers at Manchester University (who are contributing to the HBP), a 10-year neuroscience project which aims to revolutionise our understanding of the human brain.

In the months since the delivery of the circuit boards, we’re delighted to see that much progress has been made.

Now, one of the initiative’s pioneers, Professor Steve Furber of Manchester University, has revealed one of the SpiNNaker computers has been created with the circuit boards we produced.  He explained that the computer we can now see is the first of 10  and in the scheme of the overall project he equates it to the power of a mouse’s brain.

However, even mouse brains are pretty complex! Take a look – you’ll see it’s a truly phenomenal piece of technology. Though housed in a standard rack, it contains 100,000 processors. travel tool The cabling alone is impressive – it took a PhD student no less than 4 hours to organise!

The SpiNNaker machine, described as ‘massively parallel computing platform’, is supporting research in three main areas: neuroscience, robotics and computer science.

In his explanatory video, Professor Furber explains: “The PCBs look pretty conventional, they’re just lots of little black packages which are soldered together in a slightly unusual, irregular way.”

In spite of this, the creation of this first computer is a critical milestone in the overall project.

The HBP brings together scientists and researchers from a range of disciplines – computer science, psychology, biology and mathematics among others – from a number of European countries in an attempt to better understand the human brain. It is hoped it will help advance our understanding and treatment of brain diseases, as well as advance brain-inspired information and computer technology.

Russ Magee, MD of Norcott, said: “It’s fantastic to see the progress being made by Professor Furber and his team and we are delighted to have played our part.”

Here at Norcott we are proud of our long-standing reputation for technological innovation and look forward to seeing the next chapter in the development of SpiNNaker and the HBP.

Norcott - Electronic Design & Manufacturing

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