NSuite is a framework for maintaining and running benchmarks and validation tests for multi-compartment neural network simulations on HPC systems. NSuite automates the process of building simulation engines, and running benchmarks and validation tests. NSuite is specifically designed to allow easy deployment on HPC systems in testing workflows, such as benchmark-driven development or continuous integration.

There are three motivations for the development of NSuite:

  1. The need for a definitive resource for comparing performance and correctness of simulation engines on HPC systems.
  2. The need to verify the performance and correctness of individual simulation engines as they change over time.
  3. The need to test that changes to an HPC system do not cause performance or correctness regressions in simulation engines.

The framework currently supports the simulation engines Arbor, NEURON, and CoreNeuron, while allowing other simulation engines to be added.

Getting Started

NSuite implements a simple workflow with two stages using bash scripts:

  1. Compile and install simulation engines.
  2. Run and record results from benchmarks and validation tests.

Below is the simplest example of a workflow that compiles all simulation engines and runs benchmarks and validation tests:

# clone the NSuite framework from GitHub
git clone https://github.com/arbor-sim/nsuite.git
cd nsuite/

# install Arbor, NEURON and CoreNeuron
./install-local.sh arbor neuron coreneuron

# run the ring and kway benchmarks in small configuration for Arbor, NEURON and CoreNeuron
./run-bench.sh arbor neuron coreneuron --model="ring kway" --config=small

# run all validation tests for Arbor and NEURON
./run-validation.sh arbor neuron

HPC systems come in many different configurations, and often require a little bit of “creativity” to install and run software. Users of NSuite can customise the environment and how simulation engines are built and run by providing configuration scripts, which is covered along with details about the simulation engines in the simulation engine documentation.

More information about running and writing new tests can be found in the benchmark and validation documentation respectively.


NSuite is developed as a joint collaboration between the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS), and Forschungszentrum Jülich, as part of the Human Brain Project (HBP).

Development was fully funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under the Specific Grant Agreement No. 785907 (Human Brain Project SGA2).