ISCAS 2016
Conference paper

Real-time sensory information processing using the TrueNorth Neurosynaptic System

View publication


The IBM TrueNorth (TN) Neurosynaptic System, is a chip multi processor [1] with a tightly coupled processor/memory architecture, that results in energy efficient neurocomputing and it is a significant milestone to over 30 years of neuromorphic engineering! It comprises of 4096 cores each core with 65K of local memory (6T SRAM)-synapses- and 256 arithmetic logic units - neurons-that operate on a unary number representation and compute by counting up to a maximum of 19 bits. The cores are event-driven using custom asynchronous and synchronous logic, and they are globally connected through an asynchronous packet switched mesh network on chip (NOC). The chip development board, includes a Zyng Xilinx FPGA that does the housekeeping and provides support for standard communication support through an Ethernet UDP interface. The asynchronous Addressed Event Representation (AER) in the NOC is al so exposed to the user for connection to AER based peripherals through a packet with bundled data full duplex interface. The unary data values represented on the system buses can take on a wide variety of spatial and temporal encoding schemes. Pulse density coding (the number of events Ne represents a number N), thermometer coding, time-slot encoding, and stochastic encoding are examples. Additional low level interfaces are available for communicating directly with the TrueNorth chip to aid programming and parameter setting. A hierarchical, compositional programming language, Corelet, is available to aid the development of TN applications. IBM provides support and a development system as well as Compass a scalable simulator. The software environment runs under standard Linux installations (Red Hat, CentOS and Ubuntu) and has standard interfaces to Matlab and to Caffe that is employed to train deep neural network models. The TN architecture can be interfaced using native AER to a number of bio-inspired sensory devices developed over many years of neuromorphic engineering (silicon retinas and silicon cochleas). In addition the architecture is well suited for implementing deep neural networks with many applications in computer vision, speech recognition and language processing.