Supervised Learning in All FeFET-Based Spiking Neural Network: Opportunities and Challenges

Sourav Dutta*, Clemens Schafer, Jorge Gomez, Kai Ni, Siddharth Joshi, Suman Datta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The two possible pathways toward artificial intelligence (AI)—(i) neuroscience-oriented neuromorphic computing [like spiking neural network (SNN)] and (ii) computer science driven machine learning (like deep learning) differ widely in their fundamental formalism and coding schemes (Pei et al., 2019). Deviating from traditional deep learning approach of relying on neuronal models with static nonlinearities, SNNs attempt to capture brain-like features like computation using spikes. This holds the promise of improving the energy efficiency of the computing platforms. In order to achieve a much higher areal and energy efficiency compared to today’s hardware implementation of SNN, we need to go beyond the traditional route of relying on CMOS-based digital or mixed-signal neuronal circuits and segregation of computation and memory under the von Neumann architecture. Recently, ferroelectric field-effect transistors (FeFETs) are being explored as a promising alternative for building neuromorphic hardware by utilizing their non-volatile nature and rich polarization switching dynamics. In this work, we propose an all FeFET-based SNN hardware that allows low-power spike-based information processing and co-localized memory and computing (a.k.a. in-memory computing). We experimentally demonstrate the essential neuronal and synaptic dynamics in a 28 nm high-K metal gate FeFET technology. Furthermore, drawing inspiration from the traditional machine learning approach of optimizing a cost function to adjust the synaptic weights, we implement a surrogate gradient (SG) learning algorithm on our SNN platform that allows us to perform supervised learning on MNIST dataset. As such, we provide a pathway toward building energy-efficient neuromorphic hardware that can support traditional machine learning algorithms. Finally, we undertake synergistic device-algorithm co-design by accounting for the impacts of device-level variation (stochasticity) and limited bit precision of on-chip synaptic weights (available analog states) on the classification accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number634
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Dutta, Schafer, Gomez, Ni, Joshi and Datta.


  • analog synapse
  • ferroelectric FET
  • neuromorphic computing
  • spiking neural network
  • spiking neuron
  • supervised learning
  • surrogate gradient learning


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