Hybrid RRAM/SRAM in-Memory Computing for Robust DNN Acceleration

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RRAM-based in-memory computing (IMC) effectively accelerates deep neural networks (DNNs) and other machine learning algorithms. On the other hand, in the presence of RRAM device variations and lower precision, the mapping of DNNs to RRAM-based IMC suffers from severe accuracy loss. In this work, we propose a novel hybrid IMC architecture that integrates an RRAM-based IMC macro with a digital SRAM macro using a programmable shifter to compensate for the RRAM variations and recover the accuracy. The digital SRAM macro consists of a small SRAM memory array and an array of multiply-and-accumulate (MAC) units. The nonideal output from the RRAM macro, due to device and circuit nonidealities, is compensated by adding the precise output from the SRAM macro. In addition, the programmable shifter allows for different scales of compensation by shifting the SRAM macro output relative to the RRAM macro output. On the algorithm side, we develop a framework for the training of DNNs to support the hybrid IMC architecture through ensemble learning. The proposed framework performs quantization (weights and activations), pruning, RRAM IMC-aware training, and employs ensemble learning through different compensation scales by utilizing the programmable shifter. Finally, we design a silicon prototype of the proposed hybrid IMC architecture in the 65-nm SUNY process to demonstrate its efficacy. Experimental evaluation of the hybrid IMC architecture shows that the SRAM compensation allows for a realistic IMC architecture with multilevel RRAM cells (MLCs) even though they suffer from high variations. The hybrid IMC architecture achieves up to 21.9%, 12.65%, and 6.52% improvement in post-mapping accuracy over state-of-the-art techniques, at minimal overhead, for ResNet-20 on CIFAR-10, VGG-16 on CIFAR-10, and ResNet-18 on ImageNet, respectively.