The cfg file to control Spinnaker

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This guide will detail how to configure either front end (sPyNNaker, or SpiNNakerGraphFrontEnd)


For most users the easiest way to access Spinnaker is to use Jupyter

The cfg is automatically set for you there and is unlikely to need changing.

The cfg file

Spinnaker is controlled by a cfg file.

  1. .spynnaker.cfg when using SpyNNaker (including PyNN)
  2. .spinnakerGraphFrontEnd.cfg when using the SpiNNakerGraphFrontEnd

This file will be found in your home directory.

Warning some systems consider these a hidden file.

Creating a new cfg file

When SpyNNaker is first called, if a configuration file is not found, it will create one in your home directory and exit. It is possible to ask spinnaker to do this before you run your first simulation as follows:


import pyNN.spiNNaker as sim


import spinnaker_graph_front_end as front_end

Other cfg files.

Before reading the cfg in your home directory Spinnaker will load the default cfg files.

Any values in your cfg overwrite the default values.

Then if looks for a spynnaker.cfg/spinnakerGraphFrontEnd.cfg (No period) in the directory from which you run the script. Values here overwrite the ones in your home cfg. These are for values specific to the script(s).

Default values

For all values the system comes with working default values. So only include values where the default does not work.

The only required cfg settings are the ones related to accessing spinnaker, as by default no access is defined.

The default values come from cfg files in each repository.

All cfg values used by the Spinnaker system are in these files. The option maes are case insensitive and slash Do not edit these files. Instead add the values you want to change to the cfg file in your home or run directory.

Specifying how to access spinnaker

  1. Open either your .spynnaker.cfg (when using SpyNNaker) or .spinnakerGraphFrontEnd.cfg (when using the SpiNNakerGraphFrontEnd).
  2. Modify the parameters within the [Machine] section.


The system needs to know what version/type of board(s) is being used and how to access it.

Modify/ Add ‘version’ to one of these values

  • 3: For a spin1 4 chip
  • 5: For a spin1 48 chip board
  • 201: For a spin2 single chip board
  • 248: For a spin2 48 chip board

Access method.

You use exactly one of the following making sure the other values are noe or better yet removed/commented out.

Spalloc Classic Server

Due to local IP address of the boards this only works if physically inside the Manchester University network.

version = 5
spalloc_server =
spalloc_user =

Where you edit spalloc_server if you are using a different spalloc_server; editing spalloc_user is helpful for administrators of the machine to contact you if there are any problems, which is why we suggest using an email address.

In this case spalloc_server is without the http/https.

Spalloc Proxy Server

To use this option you must have an account setup by the spinnaker team.

version = 5
spalloc_server =

Where ‘user_id’ and ‘password’ should be the ones setup and that workto log into the server.

To avoid exposing user_id and password in a clear text file set the evironment variables “SPALLOC_USER” and “SPALLOC_PASSWORD”.

Local Board

Within the file, you should set machineName to the IP address or hostname of your SpiNNaker machine, and version to the version of your SpiNNaker board; this will almost certainly be “3” for a 4-chip board or “5” on a 48-chip board. The default IP address for a spinn-3 board is and the default IP address for a spinn-5 board is

version = 3
machineName =

Go to the network settings for your computer and add or set an IPv4 entry with the following address for the adapter connected to the SpiNNaker board:

  1. IP address =
  2. sub-mask =
  3. default gateway =

Virtual Board

Why would you use “virtual mode”?

  1. Some people do not have either direct access to a SpiNNaker board or have indirect access via the HBP portal, and therefore debugging their scripts within virtual mode can be useful.
  2. People who have access to a SpiNNaker board remotely via the HBP portal may find it useful to operate in virtual mode first to test their script for simple mistakes.

Previous versions

For versions upto and including 7.1.0

How to make the software release operate in “virtual mode”

To use a virtual board pick the version you want to simulate and set virtual_board to True.

version = x
virtual_board = True

Optional (mainly to simulate a wrap around machine)

  1. Modify “width = None” to state the size of your virtual SpiNNaker machine in the x dimension.
  2. Modify “height = None” to state the size of your virtual SpiNNaker machine in the y dimension.

For example: To simulate a three board wrapped setup.

version = 5
virtual_board = True
width = 12
height = 12

Other cfg settings