Analog Neuromorphics: Tools and Techniques

2022 Telluride Neuromorphic Engineering Workshop Track

Jennifer Hasler Bernhard Vogginger Terry Stewart
Georgia Institute of Technology Technical University Dresden University of Waterloo

This topic integrates analog circuit design and analog computing and high-level tools to enable many designers towards building neuromorphic engineering systems.
Our goal is to build an analog neuromorphic hardware community fully immersed in developing the tools and infrastructure needed to develop mature analog neuromorphic systems.
This track intends to make as many items possible in a remote fashion. Although some items physically at Telluride will be challenging to have a remote presence, we will try to make as many opportunities as possible.
This page will focus on the analog and tools workshop aspects. The spinnaker tools and schedule are on another site.

Summary: This topic area builds an analog neuromorphic hardware community fully immersed in developing the tools and infrastructure needed to develop mature analog neuromorphic systems. High-level tools enable low-level principles of analog design towards neuromorphic system design. New tool development, as well as new hardware development, supports large-scale analog iand neuromorphic systems. Tools are essential for a wide user base to use neuromorphic hardware (e.g. Spinnaker) that is often programmable (e.g. FG devices) as well as configurable (e.g. large-scale Field Programmable Analog Arrays (FPAA) ) for their particular application.

Neuromorphic Hardware / Software Platforms:

  • FPAA Boards with remote interfacing: The USB-interfaced FPAA boards will be utilized as a general framework to create individual circuit designs, as well as getting a vision of the capability and realistic viewpoint of working with current neuromorphic hardware.
  • Spinnaker and Spinnaker 2 Boards
  • Nengo and Nengo-Braindrop
  • Braindrop boards (??)

FG = Floating-Gate, as in FG Devices, FG Circuits, FG Systems
FPAA = large-scale Field Programmable Analog Arrays, as in SoC FPAA

Workshop Summary : We will have multiple sessions to teach hardware interfacing (e.g. FPAA devices), as well as teaching sessions to understand core tool concepts, as well as fundamental circuit concepts.

  • Week 0 (June 20-24) Virtual Discussions
  • Week 1 (June 27-July 1) Overview Discussion(s) (e.g. J. Hasler, "Neuromorphic Hardware and Tools" )
  • Week 2 (July 5-July 8)
  • Week 3 (July 11-July 13)

Discussion sessions during Virtual Telluride three weeks

Track Lectures:
  • Underlying theory of analog design through the neuromorphic design history.
  • Tools enabling design applied towards the design, synthesis, and verification of neuromorphic systems
  • Interactive (mostly virtual) sessions enabling hand-on work with existing analog systems, via remote access to FPAAs and Braindrop, low-level access and high-level programming (e.g. Nengo to program Braindrop), as well as access to simulating these analog systems.

Potential Projects

Projects: apply analog circuit and systems to solve neuromorphic application problems. Some projects emphasize on function approximation / classification, such as command-word / keyword spotting. Other projects further develop the existing tools to better support these particular applications.

  • Text classification using FPAA / Braindrop / SPICE simulation
  • Characterizing the space of functions that can be well-approximated with different hardware (and how adjusting that hardware would affect that space of functions)
  • Expanding an analog standard cell library
  • Developing higher level abstraction tools for neuromorphic hardware programming (e.g. FPAA, Braindrop)

Videos and Reading on Hardware, Tools, and Neuromorphic Design

Neuromorphic Overview and Roadmap

IEEE Spectrum (2017), Neuromorphic Comp (2013).

Physical Computing
(Analog, Neurmo, Optical, and Quantum Computing).

FPAA Devices, Systems, and Tools

Short videos:

  • FPAA History, Dev, Classification, and Directions
  • Historical perspective on FG for Neuro Eng:
  • FPAA Enabling Physical Computing
  • Open-Source FPAA tools
  • Potential FPAA Capabilities:
  • Starting point on analog standard-cell libraries

FPAA Workshop material

FPAA Tool Download : Ubuntu VM

Core Reading Material

Introduction to Analog IC Design

Skywater 130nm tools
used in GT IC design class.

Neuromorphic Design using Nengo