Micromachines (Feb 2022)

Synapse-Neuron-Aware Training Scheme of Defect-Tolerant Neural Networks with Defective Memristor Crossbars

  • Jiyong An,
  • Seokjin Oh,
  • Tien Van Nguyen,
  • Kyeong-Sik Min

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 13, no. 273
p. 273


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To overcome the limitations of CMOS digital systems, emerging computing circuits such as memristor crossbars have been investigated as potential candidates for significantly increasing the speed and energy efficiency of next-generation computing systems, which are required for implementing future AI hardware. Unfortunately, manufacturing yield still remains a serious challenge in adopting memristor-based computing systems due to the limitations of immature fabrication technology. To compensate for malfunction of neural networks caused from the fabrication-related defects, a new crossbar training scheme combining the synapse-aware with the neuron-aware together is proposed in this paper, for optimizing the defect map size and the neural network’s performance simultaneously. In the proposed scheme, the memristor crossbar’s columns are divided into 3 groups, which are the severely-defective, moderately-defective, and normal columns, respectively. Here, each group is trained according to the trade-off relationship between the neural network’s performance and the hardware overhead of defect-tolerant training. As a result of this group-based training method combining the neuron-aware with the synapse-aware, in this paper, the new scheme can be successful in improving the network’s performance better than both the synapse-aware and the neuron-aware while minimizing its hardware burden. For example, when testing the defect percentage = 10% with MNIST dataset, the proposed scheme outperforms the synapse-aware and the neuron-aware by 3.8% and 3.4% for the number of crossbar’s columns trained for synapse defects = 10 and 138 among 310, respectively, while maintaining the smaller memory size than the synapse-aware. When the trained columns = 138, the normalized memory size of the synapse-neuron-aware scheme can be smaller by 3.1% than the synapse-aware.