Exploiting the State Dependency of Conductance Variations in Memristive Devices for Accurate In-Memory Computing

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Analog in-memory computing (AIMC) using memristive devices is considered a promising Non-von Neumann approach for deep learning (DL) inference tasks. However, inaccuracies in the programming of devices, that are attributed to conductance variations, pose a key challenge toward achieving sufficient compute precision for DL inference. Fortunately, conduction variations in memristive devices, such as phase-change memory (PCM) devices, exhibit a strong state dependence. This state dependence can be exploited in synaptic unit cells that comprise more than one memristive device, to encode positive or negative weights. In such multi-memristive unit cells, we propose a method that optimally maps the weights to the device conductance values, by maximizing the number of devices at the stable SET and RESET states. We demonstrate that this method reduces the matrix-vector multiplication (MVM) error and is more resilient to non-ideal device retention characteristics. With this approach, we increase the mean experimental inference accuracy of a network trained for MNIST classification by 0.71% on two PCM-based AIMC cores, and the hardware-realistic simulated top-1 accuracy of a network trained for ImageNet classification by 0.28%, while significantly reducing variability across multiple experiment instances.