Scientists Using Intel-Cray ‘Theta’ Supercomputer to Map Brain Function

September 14, 2017

Sept. 14, 2017 — A neuroscientist and a computational scientist walk into a synchrotron facility to study a mouse brain… Sounds like a great set-up for a comedy bit, but there is no punchline. The result is cutting-edge science that can only be accomplished in a facility as scientifically integrated as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

At a casual, or even a more attentive glance, Doga Gursoy and Bobby Kasthuri would seem at opposite ends of the research spectrum. Gursoy is an assistant computational scientist at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source (APS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility; Kasthuri, an Argonne neuroscientist.

But together, they are using Argonne’s vast arsenal of innovative technologies to map the intricacies of brain function at the deepest levels, and describing them in greater detail than ever before through advanced data analysis techniques.

Gursoy and Kasthuri are among the first group of researchers to access Theta, the new 9.65 petaflops Intel-Cray supercomputer housed at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), also a DOE Office of Science User Facility. Theta’s advanced and flexible software platform supports the ALCF Data Science Program (ADSP), a new initiative targeted at big data problems, like Gursoy and Kasthuri’s brain connectome project.

ADSP projects explore and improve a variety of computational methods that will enable data-driven discoveries across all scientific disciplines.

“By developing and demonstrating rapid analysis techniques, such as data mining, graph analytics and machine learning, together with workflows that will facilitate productive usage on our systems for applications, we will pave the way for more and more science communities to use supercomputers for their big data challenges in the future,” said Venkat Vishwanath, ALCF Data Sciences Group Lead.

All about the connections

This new ADSP study of connectomes maps the connections of every neuron in the brain, whether human or mouse. Determining the location of every cell in the brain and how they communicate with each other is a daunting task, as each cell makes thousands of connections. The human brain, for example, has some 100 billion neurons, creating 100 trillion connections. Even the average mouse brain has 75 million neurons.

This ALCF award targets big data problems and our application of brain imaging does just that,” said Gursoy, assistant computational scientist in the X-Ray Science Division of Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source. “The basic goal is simple — we would like to be able to image all of the neurons in the brain — but the datasets from X-rays and electron microscopes are extremely large. They are at the tera- and petabyte scales. So we would like to use Theta to build the software and codebase infrastructure in order to analyze that data.”

This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. A portion of the work was also supported by Argonne’s Laboratory-Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program.

The process begins with two imaging techniques that will provide the massive sets of data for analysis by Theta. One is at the APS, where full brains can be analyzed at submicron resolution — in this case, the brain of a petite shrewmouse — through X-ray microtomography, a high-resolution 3-D imaging technique. Argonne’s X-ray Sciences Division of the APS provides the expertise for the microtomography research. Much like a CT scanner, it produces images as micro-thin slices of a material whose structure can be meticulously scrutinized. While this resolution provides a detailed picture of blood vessels and cell bodies, the researchers aim to go still deeper.

That depth of detail requires the use of an electron microscope, which transmits a short-wavelength electron beam to deliver resolution at the nanometer scale. This will allow for the capture of all the synaptic connections between individual neurons at small targeted regions guided by the X-ray microtomography.

For years, scientists at the APS have used these techniques to deepen our understanding of a wide variety of materials, from soil samples to new materials to biological matter,” said Kamel Fezzaa from sector 32-ID at the APS. “By coordinating our efforts with Argonne high-speed computing capabilities for this project, we are able to provide some truly revolutionary images that could provide details about brain functions that we have never before been able to observe.”

Both techniques can produce petabytes of information a day and, according to the researchers, the next generations of both microscopes will increase that amount dramatically.

Images produced by these datasets have to be processed, reconstructed and analyzed. Through the ADSP, Gursoy and Kasthuri are developing a series of large-scale data and computational steps — a pipeline — that integrates exascale computational approaches into an entirely new set of tools for brain research.

Taming of the shrew

The first case study for this pipeline is the reconstruction of an entire adult shrewmouse brain, which, they estimate, will produce one exabyte of data, or one billion gigabytes. And the studies only get bigger from there.

Machine learning will go through these datasets and help come up with predictive models. For this project, it can help with segmentation or reconstruction of the brain and help classify or identify features of interest,” said Vishwanath.

Lessons learned from the smaller shrewmouse brain will be applied to a large mouse brain, which constitutes a 10-fold increase in volume. Comparisons between the two will reveal how organizational structures form during development, from embryo to adult, and how they evolve. The reconstruction of a non-human primate brain, with a volume 100 times larger than a mouse brain, is being considered for a later study.

A neuroscientist and a computational scientist leave a synchrotron facility with studies from a mouse brain . . .  armed with new techniques to analyze this data. The images produced by their work will provide a clearer understanding of how even the smallest changes to the brain play a role in the onset and evolution of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and autism, and perhaps lead to improved treatments or even a cure.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.


Source: John Spizzirri, Argonne National Laboratory

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

NSF Budget Approved for $8.3B in 2020, a 2.5% Increase

January 16, 2020

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has been spared a President Trump-proposed budget cut that would have rolled back its funding to 2012 levels. Congress passed legislation last month that sets the budget at $8.3 bill Read more…

By Staff report

NOAA Updates Its Massive, Supercomputer-Generated Climate Dataset

January 15, 2020

As Australia burns, understanding and mitigating the climate crisis is more urgent than ever. Now, by leveraging the computing resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has updated its 20th Century Reanalysis Project (20CR) dataset... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Atos-AMD System to Quintuple Supercomputing Power at European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

January 15, 2020

The United Kingdom-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), a supercomputer-powered weather forecasting organization backed by most of the countries in Europe, has signed a four-year, $89-million Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, the gold standard programming languages for fast performance Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Computing, ML Drive 2019 Patent Awards

January 14, 2020

The dizzying pace of technology innovation often fueled by the growing availability of computing horsepower is underscored by the race to develop unique designs and application that can be patented. Among the goals of ma Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

Challenging the barriers to High Performance Computing in the Cloud

Cloud computing helps democratize High Performance Computing by placing powerful computational capabilities in the hands of more researchers, engineers, and organizations who may lack access to sufficient on-premises infrastructure. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Intelligent HPC – Keeping Hard Work at Bay(es)

Since the dawn of time, humans have looked for ways to make their lives easier. Over the centuries human ingenuity has given us inventions such as the wheel and simple machines – which help greatly with tasks that would otherwise be extremely laborious. Read more…

Andrew Jones Joins Microsoft Azure HPC Team

January 13, 2020

Andrew Jones announced today he is joining Microsoft as part of the Azure HPC engineering & product team in early February. Jones makes the move after nearly 12 years at the UK HPC consultancy Numerical Algorithms Gr Read more…

By Staff report

Atos-AMD System to Quintuple Supercomputing Power at European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

January 15, 2020

The United Kingdom-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), a supercomputer-powered weather forecasting organization backed by most of Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

White House AI Regulatory Guidelines: ‘Remove Impediments to Private-sector AI Innovation’

January 9, 2020

When it comes to new technology, it’s been said government initially stays uninvolved – then gets too involved. The White House’s guidelines for federal a Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Touts Quantum Network Growth, Improving QC Quality, and Battery Research

January 8, 2020

IBM today announced its Q (quantum) Network community had grown to 100-plus – Delta Airlines and Los Alamos National Laboratory are among most recent addition Read more…

By John Russell

HPCwire Awards Highlight Supercomputing Achievements in the Sciences

January 7, 2020

In November at SC19 in Denver, the HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice awards program celebrated its 16th year of honoring remarkable achievements in high-performance computing. With categories ranging from Best Use of HPC in Energy to Top HPC-Enabled Scientific Achievement, many of the winners contributed to groundbreaking developments in the sciences. This editorial highlights those awards. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Blasts from the (Recent) Past and Hopes for the Future

December 23, 2019

What does 2020 look like to you? What did 2019 look like? Lots happened but the main trends were carryovers from 2018 – AI messaging again blanketed everything; the roll-out of new big machines and exascale announcements continued; processor diversity and system disaggregation kicked up a notch; hyperscalers continued flexing their muscles (think AWS and its Graviton2 processor); and the U.S. and China continued their awkward trade war. Read more…

By John Russell

ARPA-E Applies ML to Power Generation Designs

December 19, 2019

The U.S. Energy Department’s research arm is leveraging machine learning technologies to simplify the design process for energy systems ranging from photovolt Read more…

By George Leopold

Focused on ‘Silicon TAM,’ Intel Puts Gary Patton, Former GlobalFoundries CTO, in Charge of Design Enablement

December 12, 2019

Change within Intel’s upper management – and to its company mission – has continued as a published report has disclosed that chip technology heavyweight G Read more…

By Doug Black

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

51,000 Cloud GPUs Converge to Power Neutrino Discovery at the South Pole

November 22, 2019

At the dead center of the South Pole, thousands of sensors spanning a cubic kilometer are buried thousands of meters beneath the ice. The sensors are part of Ic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed instances for storage workloads. The fourth-generation Azure D-series and E-series virtual machines previewed at the Rome launch in August are now generally available. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This