Six Million Euro for Neuromorphic Computing
The Heidelberg scientists in the Human Brain Project, which investigates new and pioneering computer systems known collectively as ‘neuromorphic computing’, will receive a new building to house the European Institute for Neuromorphic Computing (EINC). The symbolic start of construction of 5 May 2017 on the Neuenheimer Feld Campus was attended by Theresia Bauer, the Baden-Württemberg minister of science, Gisela Splett, state secretary in the Ministry of Finance, and by three private sponsors who together have contributed six million euros towards the financing of the future EINC building: Honorary Senator Dr Hans-Peter Wild is supporting the new facility with three million euros, while the Klaus Tschira Foundation and the Dietmar Hopp Foundation are both donating 1.5 million euros to the project.
Construction costs for the new EINC facility run to 18 million euros in total; half of this sum is provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and allocated by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, which will contribute another two million euros. Heidelberg University itself has allocated more than one million euros of its own funds to the project.
The EINC will house the team of Prof. Dr Karlheinz Meier of the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics. Under the direction of Prof. Meier, Heidelberg scientists are working with colleagues from various European research institutions to build a technological platform for neuromorphic computing; the prototype of this platform was presented and opened for use last year. The term "neuromorphic" describes systems that are based on electronic models of neural microcircuits. "Their design emulates the neurobiological structures of the nervous system, which means they are fundamentally different from numerical simulations on conventional high-performance computers," says Karlheinz Meier. The Heidelberg research for the Human Brain Project is currently being conducted in a mobile facility.
The Human Brain Project, which was launched in 2013, is one of two FET Flagship Initiatives for pioneering technologies that were started by the European Commission. The large-scale project aims at developing an integrated understanding of brain structures and functions using new information and communication technologies. Six technology platforms provide the basis for an extensive collaboration of scientists, clinical experts and engineers. Neuromorphic computing plays a central role in the emulation of learning and development processes that will help researchers design cognitive computers for machine learning applications.