Shih-Chii Liu, Jörg Kramer, Giacomo Indiveri, Tobi Delbrück, Rodney Douglas
We describe a programmable multi-chip VLSI neuronal system that can be used for exploring spike-based information processing models. The system consists of a silicon retina, a PIC microcontroller, and a transceiver chip whose integrate-and-ﬁre neurons are connected in a soft winner-take-all architecture. The circuit on this multi-neuron chip ap- proximates a cortical microcircuit. The neurons can be conﬁgured for different computational properties by the virtual connections of a se- lected set of pixels on the silicon retina. The virtual wiring between the different chips is effected by an event-driven communication pro- tocol that uses asynchronous digital pulses, similar to spikes in a neu- ronal system. We used the multi-chip spike-based system to synthe- size orientation-tuned neurons using both a feedforward model and a feedback model. The performance of our analog hardware spiking model matched the experimental observations and digital simulations of continuous-valued neurons. The multi-chip VLSI system has advantages over computer neuronal models in that it is real-time, and the computa- tional time does not scale with the size of the neuronal network.