ISCAS 2024
Conference paper

A Precision-Optimized Fixed-Point Near-Memory Digital Processing Unit for Analog In-Memory Computing


Analog In-Memory Computing (AIMC) is an emerging technology for fast and energy-efficient Deep Learning (DL) inference. However, a certain amount of digital post-processing is required to deal with circuit mismatches and non-idealities associated with the memory devices. Efficient near-memory digital logic is critical to retain the high area/energy efficiency and low latency of AIMC. Existing systems adopt Floating Point 16 (FP16) arithmetic with limited parallelization capability and high latency. To overcome these limitations, we propose a Near-Memory digital Processing Unit (NMPU) based on fixed-point arithmetic. It achieves competitive accuracy and higher computing throughput than previous approaches while minimizing the area overhead. Moreover, the NMPU supports standard DL activation steps, such as ReLU and Batch Normalization. We perform a physical implementation of the NMPU design in a 14 nm CMOS technology and provide detailed performance, power, and area assessments. We validate the efficacy of the NMPU by using data from an AIMC chip and demonstrate that a simulated AIMC system with the proposed NMPU outperforms existing FP16-based implementations, providing 139 × speed-up, 7.8 × smaller area, and a competitive power consumption. Additionally, our approach achieves an inference accuracy of 86.65%/65.06%, with an accuracy drop of just 0.12%/0.4% compared to the FP16 baseline when benchmarked with ResNet9/ResNet32 networks trained on the CIFAR10/CIFAR100 datasets, respectively.