Scaling of a Large-Scale Simulation of Synchronous Slow-Wave and Asynchronous Awake-Like Activity of a Cortical Model With Long-Range Interconnections

Elena Pastorelli, Cristiano Capone, Francesco Simula, Maria V Sanchez-Vives, Paolo Del Giudice, Maurizio Mattia, Pier Stanislao Paolucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cortical synapse organization supports a range of dynamic states on multiple spatial and temporal scales, from synchronous slow wave activity (SWA), characteristic of deep sleep or anesthesia, to fluctuating, asynchronous activity during wakefulness (AW). Such dynamic diversity poses a challenge for producing efficient large-scale simulations that embody realistic metaphors of short- and long-range synaptic connectivity. In fact, during SWA and AW different spatial extents of the cortical tissue are active in a given timespan and at different firing rates, which implies a wide variety of loads of local computation and communication. A balanced evaluation of simulation performance and robustness should therefore include tests of a variety of cortical dynamic states. Here, we demonstrate performance scaling of our proprietary Distributed and Plastic Spiking Neural Networks (DPSNN) simulation engine in both SWA and AW for bidimensional grids of neural populations, which reflects the modular organization of the cortex. We explored networks up to 192 × 192 modules, each composed of 1,250 integrate-and-fire neurons with spike-frequency adaptation, and exponentially decaying inter-modular synaptic connectivity with varying spatial decay constant. For the largest networks the total number of synapses was over 70 billion. The execution platform included up to 64 dual-socket nodes, each socket mounting 8 Intel Xeon Haswell processor cores @ 2.40 GHz clock rate. Network initialization time, memory usage, and execution time showed good scaling performances from 1 to 1,024 processes, implemented using the standard Message Passing Interface (MPI) protocol. We achieved simulation speeds of between 2.3 × 109 and 4.1 × 109 synaptic events per second for both cortical states in the explored range of inter-modular interconnections.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Computational physics
  • neural network
  • distributed simulations
  • Simulation methods and programs


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