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  1. Today‚Äôs Deep Neural Network (DNN) inference systems contain hundreds of billions of parameters, resulting in significant latency and energy overheads during inference due to frequent data transfers between compute and memory units. Processing-in-Memory (PiM) has emerged as a viable solution to tackle this problem by avoiding the expensive data movement. PiM approaches based on electrical devices suffer from throughput and energy efficiency issues. In contrast, Optically-addressed Phase Change Memory (OPCM) operates with light and achieves much higher throughput and energy efficiency compared to its electrical counterparts. This paper introduces a system-level design that takes the OPCM programming overhead into consideration, and identifies that the programming cost dominates the DNN inference on OPCM-based PiM architectures. We explore the design space of this system and identify the most energy-efficient OPCM array size and batch size. We propose a novel thresholding and reordering technique on the weight blocks to further reduce the programming overhead. Combining these optimizations, our approach achieves up to 65.2x higher throughput than existing photonic accelerators for practical DNN workloads. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 7, 2024