SRIF: Scalable and reliable integrate and fire circuit ADC for memristor-based CIM architectures

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Emerging computation-in-memory (CIM) paradigm offers processing and storage of data at the same physical location, thus alleviating critical memory-processor communication bottlenecks suffered by conventional von-Neumann architecture. Storage of data in a CIM architecture is analog in nature and therefore computation is performed in analog domain i.e. inputs and outputs are analog values. Since the outside computing environment is digital, analog-to-digital converters (ADC) are utilized to perform the output data conversion. However, ADC designs are bulky, power-hungry circuits that are prone to design variations and therefore, play an important role in determining the computing efficiency of CIM architectures. In this paper, we present a scalable and reliable integrate and fire circuit ADC (SRIF-ADC) design for CIM architectures, suitable for stringent power and area constraints. We devise a technique to stabilize the node receiving analog inputs that allows more rows to be activated at the same time, thereby increasing the operand size of input vectors. This allows better scalability in terms of higher parallelism of operations. We employ a self-timed variation-aware design approach and design measures to drastically reduce read disturb of memristor devices that address reliability issues related to the ADC design. In addition, we present a compact, built-in sample-and-hold circuit to replace the large-sized capacitance and built-in weighting technique to alleviate the need for post-processing. For multiply-and-accumulate (MAC) operation, our simulation results show that we can improve the computational parallelism by 3X as well as ADC conversion speed and energy efficiency are improved by 2X and 11.6X, respectively, compared to the state-of-the-art design.