ICT platform sub-projects
The Neuroinformatics Platform will use state-of-the-art ICT (semantic technology, distributed query technology, provenance tracking etc.) to give neuroscientists the ability to organise and search massive volumes of heterogeneous data, knowledge and tools produced by the international neuroscience community. New tools incorporated in the platform will allow researchers to analyse and interpret large volumes of structural and functional data and to construct brain atlases. The HBP will use these tools to develop detailed 3D multilevel atlases of the mouse, rat and human brains. The atlases, accessible to the community through the HBP web portal, will be the main source of high-quality annotated data for brain modelling. Another key feature of the platform will be support for Predictive Neuroinformatics: the mining of large volumes of data and analysis of activity data to identify patterns and relationships between data from different levels of biological organisation, making it possible to predict parameters where experimental data is not yet available and to test and calibrate model implementations. Systematic application of this strategy has the potential to drastically increase the amount of information that can be extracted from experimental data, rapidly filling gaps in our current knowledge and accelerating the generation of data required for brain modelling.
Brain Simulation Platform
The Brain Simulation Platform will provide a suite of software tools and workflows that allow researchers to build and simulate models of the brain at different levels of description, and to perform in silico experiments that are difficult or impossible in the lab. The project will use the platform to develop and validate first draft models of different levels of brain organisation, in mice and in humans. The ultimate goal will be to build and simulate multiscale, multilevel models of the whole mouse brain and the whole human brain. The capabilities made available by the platform will contribute to identifying the neuronal architectures underlying specific brain functions, to studies of the mechanisms underlying neurological and psychiatric disease, and to new simulation-based techniques of drug discovery. Simplified versions of brain models will form the basis for novel neuromorphic computing systems.
High Performance Computing Platform
Current supercomputing technology lacks the computing and communication power, I/O capabilities and advanced software to simulate multi-scale models of the complete human brain. Just as importantly, it lacks the software capabilities to analyse and visualise massive volumes of data from large-scale brain simulations. The High Performance Computing Platform will provide the advanced supercomputing capabilities required for brain modelling and simulation and for the design of novel neuromorphic computing systems. The first element in the platform will be the HBP Supercomputer, a machine that will gradually evolve toward the exascale over the duration of the project. This will be complemented by satellite facilities dedicated to software development, molecular dynamics simulations, and massive data analytics. A key goal will be to develop a capability for in situ analysis and visualisation of exascale data sets and for interactive visual “steering” of simulations. These features will be invaluable not just for brain simulation but also for many other applications, in the life sciences and elsewhere.
Medical Informatics Platform
The Medical Informatics Platform will federate genetics, imaging, and other clinical data currently locked in hospital and research archives and make the data available to relevant research communities. An important goal will be to use the platform to identify biological signatures of disease. Success would accelerate the development of a new category of biologically based diagnostics, supported by strong, mechanistic hypotheses of disease causation. Hypotheses developed in this way could then be tested through in silico experiments on the Brain. Simulation Platform. The results will help researchers to identify new drug targets and new strategies for treatment, providing valuable input for industry decision-makers before they invest in expensive programmes of animal experimentation or human trials.
Neuromorphic Computing Platform
The Neuromorphic Computing Platform will allow non-expert neuroscientists and engineers to perform experiments with Neuromorphic Computing Systems (NCS): hardware devices incorporating simplified versions of the brain models developed by the Brain Simulation Platform, state-of-the-art electronic component and circuit technologies as well as new knowledge arising from other areas of HBP research (experimental neuroscience, theory). The platform will provide access to three classes of NCS: systems based on physical (analogue or mixed-signal) emulations of brain models (NM-PM), running much faster than real time; numerical models running in real time on digital multicore architectures, (NM-MC), and hybrid systems. The platform will be tightly integrated with the High Performance Computing Platform, which will provide essential services for mapping and routing circuits to neuromorphic substrates, benchmarking and simulation-based verification of hardware specifications.
The Neurorobotics Platform will offer scientists and technology developers a software and hardware infrastructure allowing them to connect brain models, implemented though the Brain Simulation Platform or on neuromorphic computing systems to detailed simulations of robot bodies and their environments, or to physical robots. The capabilities provided by the platform will allow cognitive neuroscientists to perform closed-loop experiments dissecting the neuronal mechanisms responsible for specific cognitive capabilities and behaviours, and will support the development of neurorobotic systems for applications in specific domains (manufacturing, services, automatic vehicles etc.)