HPE supercomputer used to advance modeling of the mammalian brain

A Swiss research initiative called the Blue Brain Project is using a supercomputer based on the HPE SGI 8600 System to model regions of the mouse brain.


HPE SGI 8600 System

A better understanding of the mammalian brain could help researchers discover how to more effectively treat diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Yet understanding the human brain is no small task: it comprises 100 billion neurons and more than 100 trillion synapses.

To gain better insight into the brain's functionality, a Swiss research initiative, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Blue Brain Project (BBP), has invested in an HPE supercomputer called Blue Brain 5. It will use it to build biologically detailed digital models and simulations of the mammalian brain, starting with the rodent brain.

Blue Brain 5 is based on the HPE SGI 8600 System and includes 372 compute nodes delivering 1.06 petaflops of peak performance. It's equipped with 94 terabytes of memory and runs Intel Xeon Gold 6140 and Intel Xeon Phi 7230 processors, as well as Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs.

BBP's goal is to model entire regions of the mouse brain by 2020. Modeling entire brain regions leads to around 100 billion equations that have to be solved concurrently, Blue Brain Project co-director Felix Schürmann explained in a statement.

With the flexible architecture of the HPE SGI 8600 System, HPE was able to design Blue Brain 5 to support various compute-intensive tasks. The system is installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre in Lugano, Switzerland. Including a subsequent phase, the BBP is spending up to CHF 18 million (just over US $18 million) for HPE's supercomputing technology and expertise.