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if you're trying to achieve parity with human brain calculation the most important thing is how slow neural connections are. they're snail-paced compared with gigabit links and CPU's @ 3 Ghz+. There's quite a lot of memory that is needed but if you're allowed to make a million round-trips across the room before you miss your realtime deadline, it's kind of silly to think that it won't happen. The fact you point out (about not all parts firing at once) could be useful because it might result in these links not being saturated by data anyway.

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