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  1. Today’s 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
  2. Phase Change Memory (PCM) is an attractive candidate for main memory, as it offers non-volatility and zero leakage power while providing higher cell densities, longer data retention time, and higher capacity scaling compared to DRAM. In PCM, data is stored in the crystalline or amorphous state of the phase change material. The typical electrically controlled PCM (EPCM), however, suffers from longer write latency and higher write energy compared to DRAM and limited multi-level cell (MLC) capacities. These challenges limit the performance of data-intensive applications running on computing systems with EPCMs.

    Recently, researchers demonstrated optically controlled PCM (OPCM) cells with support for 5bits/cellin contrast to 2bits/cellin EPCM. These OPCM cells can be accessed directly with optical signals that are multiplexed in high-bandwidth-density silicon-photonic links. The higher MLC capacity in OPCM and the direct cell access using optical signals enable an increased read/write throughput and lower energy per access than EPCM. However, due to the direct cell access using optical signals, OPCM systems cannot be designed using conventional memory architecture. We need a complete redesign of the memory architecture that is tailored to the properties of OPCM technology.

    This article presents the design of a unified network and main memory system called COSMOS that combines OPCM and silicon-photonic links to achieve high memory throughput. COSMOS is composed of a hierarchical multi-banked OPCM array with novel read and write access protocols. COSMOS uses an Electrical-Optical-Electrical (E-O-E) control unit to map standard DRAM read/write commands (sent in electrical domain) from the memory controller on to optical signals that access the OPCM cells. Our evaluation of a 2.5D-integrated system containing a processor and COSMOS demonstrates2.14 ×average speedup across graph and HPC workloads compared to an EPCM system. COSMOS consumes3.8×lower read energy-per-bit and5.97×lower write energy-per-bit compared to EPCM. COSMOS is the first non-volatile memory that provides comparable performance and energy consumption as DDR5 in addition to increased bit density, higher area efficiency, and improved scalability.

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