Proposal for an All-Spin Artificial Neural Network: Emulating Neural and Synaptic Functionalities Through Domain Wall Motion in Ferromagnets
Non-Boolean computing based on emerging post-CMOS technologies can potentially pave the way for low-power neural computing platforms. However, existing work on such emerging neuromorphic architectures have either focused on solely mimicking the neuron, or the synapse functionality. While memristive devices have been proposed to emulate biological synapses, spintronic devices have proved to be efficient at performing the thresholding operation of the neuron at ultra-low currents. In this work, we propose an All-Spin Artificial Neural Network where a single spintronic device acts as the basic building block of the system. The device offers a direct mapping to synapse and neuron functionalities in the brain while inter-layer network communication is accomplished via CMOS transistors. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a neural architecture where a single nanoelectronic device is able to mimic both neurons and synapses. The ultra-low voltage operation of low resistance magneto-metallic neurons enables the low-voltage operation of the array of spintronic synapses, thereby leading to ultra-low power neural architectures. Device-level simulations, calibrated to experimental results, was used to drive the circuit and system level simulations of the neural network for a standard pattern recognition problem. Simulation studies indicate energy savings by $\sim\!\! 100\times$ in comparison to a corresponding digital/analog CMOS neuron implementation.