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Chapter 15

Chapter 15

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15.1 Introduction




VLSI Implementations of Neural Networks

In the previous chapters of this book we presented a broad exposition of neural networks, describing a variety of algorithms for implementing supervised and unsupervised learning paradigms. In the final analysis, however, neural networks can only gain acceptance as tools for solving engineering problems such as pattern classification, modeling, signal processing, and control in one of two ways:

Compared to conventional methods, the use of a neural network makes a significant difference in the performance of a system for a real-world application, or else it provides a significant reduction in the cost of implementation without compromising performance. Through the use of a neural network, we are able to solve a difficult problem for which there is no other solution.


Given that we have a viable solution to an engineering problem based on a neural network approach, we need to take the next step: build the neural network in hardware, and embed the piece of hardware in its working environment. It is only when we have a working model of the system that we can justifiably say we fully understand it. The key question that arises at this point in the discussion is: What is the most cost-effective medium for the hardware implementation of a neural network? A fully digital approach that comes to mind is to use a RZSC processor; RISC is the acronym for reduced instruction set computer (Cocke and Markstein, 1990). Such a processor is designed to execute a small number of simple instructions, preferably one instruction for every cycle of the computer clock. Indeed, because of the very high speed of modern-day RISC processors, their use for the emulation of neural networks is probably fast enough for some applications. However, for certain complex applications such as speech recognition and optical character recognition, a level of performance is required that is not attainable with existing RISC processors, certainly within the cost limitations of the proposed applications (Hammerstrom, 1992). Also, there are many situations such as process control, adaptive beamforming, and adaptive noise cancellation where the required speed of learning is much too fast for standard processors. To meet the computational requirements of the complex applications and highly demanding situations described here, we may have to resort to the use of very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuits, a rapidly developing technology that provides an ideal medium for the hardware implementation of neural networks. In the use of VLSI technology, we have the capability of fabricating integrated circuits with tens of millions of transistors on a single silicon chip, and it is highly likely that this number will be increased by two orders of magnitude before reaching the fundamental

594 15 / VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks

limits of the technology imposed by the laws of physics (Hoeneisen and Mead, 1972; Keyes, 1987). We thus find that VLSI technology is well matched to neural networks for two principal reasons (Boser et al., 1992):

1. The high functional density achievable with VLSI technology permits the implementation of a large number of identical, concurrently operating neurons on a single chip, thereby making it possible to exploit the inherent parallelism of neural networks. 2. The regular topology of neural networks and the relatively small number of welldefined arithmetic operations involved in their learning algorithms greatly simplify the design and layout of VLSl circuits.
Accordingly, we find that there is a great deal of research effort devoted worldwide to VLSI implementations of neural networks on many fronts. Today, there are generalpurpose chips available for the construction of multilayer perceptrons, Boltzmann machines, mean-field-theory machines, and self-organizing neural networks. Moreover, various special-purpose chips have been developed for specific information-processing functions. VLSI technology not only provides the medium for the implementation of complex information-processing functions that are neurobiologically inspired, but also can be seen to serve a complementary and inseparable role as a synthetic element to build test beds for postulates of neural organization (Mead, 1989).The successful use of VLSI technology to create a bridge between neurobiology and information sciences will have the following beneficial effects: deeper understanding of information processing, and novel methods for solving engineering problems that are intractable by traditional computer techniques (Mead, 1989). The interaction between neurobiology and information sciences via the silicon medium may also influence the very art of electronics and VLSI technology itself by having to solve new challenges posed by the interaction. With all these positive attributes of VLSI technology, it is befitting that we devote this final chapter of the book to its use as the medium for hardware implementations of neural networks. The discussion will, however, be at an introductory level.'

Organization of the Chapter
The material of the chapter is organized as follows. In Section 15.2 we discuss the basic design considerations involved in the VLSI implementation of neural networks. In Section 15.3 we categorize VLSI implementations of neural networks into analog, digital, and hybrid methods. Then, in Section 15.4 we describe commercially available general-purpose and special-purpose chips for hardware implementations of neural networks. Section 15.5 on concluding remarks completes the chapter and the book.

15.2 Major Design Considerations
The incredible functional density, ease of use, and low cost of industrial CMOS (complementary metal oxide silicon) transistors make CMOS technology as the technology of choice for VLSI implementations of neural networks (Mead, 1989). Regardless of whether we are considering the development of general-purposeor special-purpose chips for neural networks, there are a number of major design issues that would have to be considered in

' For detailed treatment of analog VLSI systems, with emphasis on neuromorphic networks, see the book by Mead (1989). For specialized aspects of the subject, see the March 1991, May 1992, and May 1993 Special Issues of the IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks. The report by Andreou (1992) provides an overview of analog VLSI systems with emphasis on circuit models of neurons, synapses, and neuromorphic functions.

15.2 / Major Design Considerations 595

the use of this technology. Specifically, we may identify the following items (Hammerstrom, 1992).

1. Sum-of-Products Computation. This is a functional requirement common to the operation of all neurons. It involves multiplying each element of an activation pattern (data vector) by an appropriate weight, and then summing the weighted inputs, as described in the standard equation

vj =
i= 1



where wji is the weight of synapse i belonging to neuron j , xiis the input applied to the ith synapse, p is the number of synapses, and vj is the resulting activation potential of neuron j . 2. Data Representation. Generally speaking, neural networks have low-precision requirements, the exact specification of which is algorithdapplication dependent. 3. Output Computation. The most common form of activation function at the output of a neuron is a smooth nonlinear function such as the sigmoid function described by the logistic function, (15.2) or the hyperbolic tangent, p(vj) = tanh(vj) = 1 - exp(-vj) 1 + exp(-vi) (15.3)

These two forms of the sigmoidal activation function are linearly related to each other; see Chapter 6. Occasionally, the threshold function

dv,) =






v, < 0

is considered to be sufficient. 4. Learning Complexity. Each learning algorithm has computational requirements of its own. Several popular learning algorithms rely on the use of local computations for making modifications to the synaptic weights of a neural network; this is a highly desirable feature from an implementation point of view. Some other algorithms have additional requirements, such as the back-propagation of error terms through the network, which imposes an additional burden on the implementation of the neural network, as in the case of a multilayer perceptron trained with the back-propagation algorithm. 5. Weight Storage. This requirement refers to the need to store the “old” values of synaptic weights of a neural network. The “new” values of the weights are computed by using the changes computed by the learning algorithm to update the old values. 6. Communications. Metal is expensive in terms of silicon area, which leads to significant inefficiencies if bandwidth utilization of communication (connectivity) links among neurons is low. Connectivity is perhaps one of the most serious constraints imposed on the fabrication of a silicon chip, particularly as we scale up analog or digital technology to very large neural networks. Indeed, significant innovation in communication schemes is necessary if we are to implement very large neural networks on silicon chips efficiently. The paper by Bailey and Hammerstrom (1988) discusses the fundamental issues involved in the connectivity problem with the VLSI implementation of neural networks in mind;

596 15 / VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks

specifically, it shows that multiplexing interconnections is necessary for networks exhibiting poor locality. 7 . Implementation Costs. The total system costs involved in the implementation of a neural network must be considered in the production of a silicon chip. The factors to be accounted for include the following:

Inpudoutput bandwidth requirements Power consumption Flexible use and range of applications Use of analog versus digital technology


The very last point, the use of analog versus digital technology, opens a new topic for discussion, which we take up in the next section.

15.3 Categories of VLSl Implementations
In an analog implementation of a neural network the information-bearing signals have a continuous amplitude. In a digital implementation, on the other hand, the signals are quantized into a finite set of discrete amplitudes. A hybrid combination of these two approaches provides the basis of other schemes for building neural networks. Accordingly, we may categorize the VLSI implementation of neural networks as follows.

Analog Techniques
In an eloquent and convincing address presented at the First IEEE International Conference on Neural Networks, Mead (1987a) argued in favor of a synthetic approach combining silicon VLSI technology and analog circuits for the implementation of neural networks. Although analog circuits do indeed suffer from lack of precision, this shortcoming is compensated by the efficiency of computations based on the principles of classical circuit theory and the laws of physics. Analog circuits can do certain computationsthat are difficult or time-consuming (or both) when implemented in the conventional digital paradigm, and do them with much less power (Mead, 1989). Figure 15.1 shows the circuit symbols for the n-channel andp-channel types of MOS (metal oxide silicon) transistors, which use electrons and holes as their charge carriers, respectively. The technology so based is thus called complementary MOS, or CMOS. The function of a MOS transistor may be understood by examining the drain current I d defined as a function of the gate-source voltage V,, with the drain being maintained at a fixed voltage (2V, say). Two regions may be identified in such a functional dependence (Andreou, 1992; Mead, 1989): The abovethreshold region, where the drain current I d is a quadratic function of the gate-source voltage V,, .


The subthreshold region, where the transistor is operated at low gate-source voltages such that the drain current Id is an exponential function of the gate-source voltage

All things being equal, the exponential nonlinearity (i.e., operation in the subthreshold region) is preferrable, because it provides more transconductance (i.e., aZd/av,) per unit current. Moreover, in the subthreshold region, the MOS transistor can provide two useful functions, depending on the drain-source voltage, as described here:

15.3 / Categories of VLSl Implementations 597



Source n-channel p-channel


FIGURE 15.1 (a) n-channel transistor. (b) pchannel transistor.


For small drain-source voltages (approximately, less than a few hundred millivolts), the device acts essentially as a controlled conductance with perfect symmetry between the source and the drain; this mode of operation is called the ohmic or linear region. For larger values of drain-source voltage, the device is essentially a voltage-controlled current source (i.e., a sink).


In analog VLSI implementations of neuromorphic networks, whose purpose is to mimic specific neurobiologicalfunctions, the customary practice is to operate the MOS transistors in the subthreshold region; neuromorphic networks are discussed in Section 15.4. Subthresholdoperation of CMOS transistors exhibits the following useful characteristics (Andreou, 1992; Mead, 1989):
w w


Exponential current gain over six orders of magnitude (10 pA + 10 PA). Very efficient voltage-to-current(exponential) conversion or current-to-voltage (logarithmic) conversion produced by a single transistor. Extremely low power dissipation (typically, lo-'' to



Above all, however, it provides the basis of a design philosophy for building large-scale analog circuits that mimic a neurobiological system chosen for study. The analog computations performed by such a neurocomputer are based on functions of time, space, voltage, current, and charge, which are related directly to the physics of the computational substrate. The functions are described at the device level, circuit level, and architectural level, as follows (Andreou, 1992; Mead, 1989): Device Level. Let I d denote the drain current of the MOS transistor. Let V,, V,, and v denote the respective voltages of the gate, source, and drain, measured with d respect to the local substrate. Then, the device behavior in the subthreshold region is defined by, depending on whether the transistor is of the n-channel or p-channel type (Mead, 1989),

598 15 / VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks

where Io is the zero-bias current and K is a body-effect coeflcient, which depends on the type of transistor used; U, is the thermal voltage, defined by (15.7) where kBis Boltzmann’s constant, Tis the absolute temperature measured in kelvins, and q is the electron charge. Note that the exponential functions in Eqs. (15.5) and (15.6) are all due to Boltzmann’s law, and the exact difference between exponential functions inside the square brackets is a result of Ohm’s law. The combination of these two equations defines the kind of analog computations that can be performed with subthreshold CMOS technology.

Circuit Level. This second level is governed by the conservation of charge and the conservation of energy, which, respectively, yield the two familiar equations:


(15.8) (15.9)

Equation (15.8) is recognized as Kirchoff’s current law, and Eq. (15.9) is Kirchoff’s voltage law.

Architectural Level. At this last level, differential equations from mathematical physics are used to implement useful functions, depending on the application of interest.

In the analog approach described by Andreou (1992) and Andreou et al. (1991), a minimalistic design style is adopted. The approach is motivated by the belief that a single transistor is a powerful computational element that can provide gain and also some basic computational functions. The design methodology is based on current-mode subthreshold CMOS circuits, according to which the signals of interest are represented as currents, and voltages play merely an incidental role. The current-mode approach offers signal processing at the highest possible bandwidth, given the available silicon technologies and a fixed amount of energy resources (Andreou, 1992). In contrast, in the analog approach described by Mead (1989), a transconductance ampliJier is taken as the basic building block. This amplifier, shown in its basic form in Fig. 15.2, is a device whose output current is a function of the difference between two input voltages, Vl and V,. It is referred to as a transconductance amplifier because it changes a differential input voltage, Vl - V,, into an output current. This differential voltage is taken as the primary signal representation. The bottom transistor Qb in Fig. The current I, is divided 15.2 operates as a current source, supplying a constant current lb. between the two top transistors Ql and Qz in a manner determined by the differential voltage, V , - V,. Assuming that the drain-source voltages of these two transistors are large enough for them to be driven into saturation, we find that the application of Eq. (15.5) to the differential transconductance amplifier of Fig. 15.2 yields (Mead, 1989) (15.10)

15.3 / Categories of VLSl Implementations 599




FIGURE 15.2 Circuit diagram of a differential pair used as a transconductance amplifier.

where tanh(.) is the hyperbolic tangent, and
Vi” =

v, - v 2
11 - 12





Thus with the differential voltage vi, treated as the input signal and the differential current I, treated as the output signal, we see that the circuit of Fig. 15.2 provides a simple ,, device for the “output computation” in the form of a sigmoidal nonlinearity that is asymmetric about the origin. The “sum-of-products” computation is equally well suited for the analog paradigm. In CMOS technology, the natural choice for a nonreciprocal synapse is a single MOS transistor driven into saturation (Boahen et al., 1989). Specifically, an input voltage applied to the insulated gate of the transistor produces a low-conductance output at the drain. This arrangement allows for a large fan-out. Figure 15.3 shows both n-channel and p channel transistors used to model inhibitory and excitatory synapses, respectively. By convention, excitation is the supply of positive charge to a node, whereas inhibition is the drain of positive charge from a node. The input-output relation of Fig. 15.3a is defined by I* = Io eXp(Kv,*lU,) i (15.13) and that of Fig. 15.3b is defined by


IO ex~(-KVexcIUt)


In both cases each synaptic weight is modeled as a transconductance. For the final step in the sum-of-products computation, Kirchoff‘s current law is invoked to perfom summation of output drain currents corresponding to the various synapses of a neuron. There is one other issue that needs to be considered, namely, that of storage. This requirement, for example, may be taken care of by using the voltage difference between two floating gates to store a synaptic weight.

600 15 / VLSI Implementations of Neural Networks


FIGURE 15.3 Models for (a) inhibitory and (b) excitatory synapses.

In analog VLSI systems designed to perform neuromorphic computations, additional operations are often required, as described here (Andreou, 1992; Mead, 1989):

Multiplication, where a signal of either sign is multiplied by another signal of either sign; this operation requires the use of a four-quadrant multiplier, where each quadrant corresponds to a particular combination of input signals. Aggregation, where a very large number of inputs are brought together in an analog manner. Scaling, where a quantity of interest is multiplied by a scaling factor. Normalization, the purpose of which is to reduce the dynamic range of input signals to levels compatible with the needs of subsequent processing stages; normalization can be of a local or global nature. Winner-takes-all, where a particular neuron among many others wins a competitive process.
Circuits that implement these neuromorphic functions are described in Andreou (1992) and Mead (1989). The important point to note from this brief discussion is that analog circuits, be they based on conventional CMOS technology or subthreshold CMOS technology, provide a computationally efficient technique for the implementation of neural networks and for mimicking neurobiology.

Digital Techniques
There are two key advantages to the digital approach over the analog approach (Hammerstrom, 1992):

Ease of Design and Manufacture. The use of digital VLSI technology offers the advantage of high precision, ease of weight storage, and cost-performanceadvantage in “programmability” over analog VLSI technology. Moreover, digital silicon processing is more readily available than analog. Flexibility. The second and most important advantage of the digital approach is that it is much moreflexible, permitting the use of many more complex algorithms and expanding the range of possible applications. In some cases, solving complex problems may require significant flexibility in the neural network architecture to be able to solve the problem at all. Lack of flexibility is indeed a fundamental limitation of analog systems; in particular, the level of complexity that the technology can deal

15.3 / Categories of VLSI Implementations 601

with often limits the range and scope of problems that can be solved with analog technology. However, a disadvantage of digital VLSI technology is that the digital implementation of multiplication is both area- and power-hungry. Area requirements may be reduced by using digital, multiplexed interconnect (Hammerstrom, 1992). The ultimate choice of digital over analog technology cannot be answered unless we h o w which particular algorithms are being considered for neural network applications. If, however, general-purpose use is the aim, then the use of digital VLSI technology has a distinct advantage over its analog counterpart. We have more to say on this issue in Section 15.4.

Hybrid Techniques
The use of analog computation is attractive for neural VLSI for reasons of compactness, potential speed, and absence of quantization effects. The use of digital techniques, on the other hand, is preferred for long-distance communications, because digital signals are known to be robust, easily transmitted and regenerated. These considerations encourage the use of a hybrid approach for the VLSI implementation of neural networks, which builds on the merits of both analog and digital technologies (Murray et al., 1991). A signaling technique that lends itself to this hybrid approach is pulse modulation, the theory and practice of which are well known in the field of communication systems (Haykin, 1983; Black, 1953). In pulse modulation, viewed in the context of neural networks, some characteristic of a pulse stream used as carrier is varied in accordance with a neural state. Given that the pulse amplitude, pulse duration, and pulse repetition rate are the parameters available for variation, we may distinguish three basic pulse modulation techniques as described here (Murray et al., 1991):

Pulse-amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of a pulse is modulated in time, reflecting the variation in neural state 0 < sj < 1. This technique is not particularly satisfactory in neural networks, because the information is transmitted as analog voltage levels, which makes it susceptible to processing variations.

w Pulse-width modulation, in which the width (duration) of a pulse is varied in accordance with the neural state sj. The advantages of a hybrid scheme now become

apparent, as no analog voltage is present in the modulated signal, with information being coded along the time axis. A pulse-width-modulated signal is therefore robust. Moreover, demodulation of the signal is readily accomplished via integration. The use of a constant signaling frequency, however, means that either the leading or trailing edges of the modulated signals representing neural states will occur simultaneously. The existence of this synchronism represents a drawback in massively parallel neural VLSI networks, since all the neurons (and synapses) tend to draw current on the supply lines simultaneously, with no averaging effect. It follows, therefore, that the supply lines must be oversized in order to accommodate the high instantaneous currents produced by the use of pulse-width modulation.

Pulse-frequency modulation, in which the instantaneousfrequency of the pulse stream is varied in accordance with the neural state s,, with the frequency ranging from some minimum to some maximum value. In this case, both the amplitude and duration of each pulse are maintained constant. Here also the use of a hybrid scheme is advantageous for the same reasons mentioned for pulse-width modulation. Since the signaling frequency is now variable, both the leading and trailing edges of the modulated signals representing the neural states become skewed. Consequently, the

602 15 / VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks

massive transient demand on supply lines is avoided, and the power requirement is averaged in time as a result of using pulse-frequency modulation. From this discussion, it appears that pulse-frequency modulation’ provides a practical technique for signaling in massively parallel neural VLSI networks. It is also of interest to note that it has been known for about a century that neurons in the brain signal one another using pulse-frequency modulation (Hecht-Nielsen, 1990). Thus, recognizing the benefits of pulse-frequency modulation, and being inspired by neurobiological models, Churcher et al. (1993) and Murray et al. (1991) describe integrated pulse stream neural networks, based on pulse-frequency modulation. In particular, the networks use digital signals to convey information and control analog circuitry, while storing analog information along the time axis. Thus the VLSI neural networks described therein are hybrid devices, moving between the analog and digital domains as appropriate, to optimize the robustness, compactness, and speed of the associated network chips. There is another important hybrid technique used in the VLSI implementation of neural networks, namely, multiplying digital-to-analog converters (MDAC) employed as multipliers. In this technique, an analog state (i.e., input signal) can be multiplied with a digital weight as in the Bellcore chip (Alspector et al., 1991b), or a digital state can be multiplied with an analog weight as in the AT&T ANNA chip (Sackinger et al., 1992); we have more to say on these hybrid chips in Section 15.4. Thus MDACs permit the neural network designer to combine the use of analog and digital technologies in an optimal fashion to solve a particular computation problem.

15.4 Neurocomputing Hardware
Having surveyed the analog, digital, and hybrid approaches to the VLSI implementations of neural networks and identified their advantages and disadvantages, we are ready to look at some examples of neurocomputing hardware. The list of general-purpose and special-purpose neurocomputer chipdsystems available presently is quite diverse, and still growing, which is indicative of the rapid acceptance of neural networks by the user community. General-purpose chips/systems include the ETANN analog chip (Holler et al., 1988), the University of Edinburgh EPSILON hybrid chip (Murray et al., 1991; Hamilton et al., 1992; Churcher et al., 1993), the Adaptive Solutions CNAPS digital system (Hammerstrom, 1992; Hammerstrom et al., 1990), the Siemens digital Neural Signal Processor (Ramacher et al., 1991; Ramacher, 1990), the Mitsubishi BNU digital chip (Arima et al., 1991), the Hitachi digital chip (Watanabe et al., 1993), the Bellcore Boltzmann/mean-fieldlearning chip (Alspector et al., 1991b, 1992a), and the AT&T Bell Labs ANNA chip (Boser et al., 1992; Sackinger et al., 1992). Special-purpose chips include the Synaptics OCR chip, an analog implementation of Kohonen’s self-organizing feature map with on-chip learning (Macq et al., 1993); VLSI processors for video machine detection (Lee et al., 1993); a programmable analog VLSI neural network for communication receivers (Choi et al., 1993); and a multilevel neural chip for analog-to-digitalconversion (Yuh and Newcomb, 1993). As examples of neurocomputing VLSI hardware, we have selected for further discussion three of these chips/systems: the CNAPS, the Boltzmandmean-field learning chip, and the ANNA chip. The section concludes with a discussion of neuromorphic chips.
Another pulse modulation technique, known as pulse duty cycle modulation, may be used as the basis of VLSI implementation of synaptic weighting and summing (Moon et al., 1992). In this scheme, variations in the duty cycle of a pulse stream are used to convey information.

15.4 / Neurocomputing Hardware 603

For our first VLSI-based system, we have chosen a general-purpose digital machine called CNAPS (Connected Network of Adaptive Processors), manufactured by Adaptive Solutions, Inc., and which is capable of high neural network performance (Hammerstrom, 1992; Hammerstrom et al., 1990). The CNAPS system is an SIMD (Single Instruction stream, Multiple Data stream) machine, consisting of an m a y of processor nodes, as illustrated in Fig. 15.4. Each processor node (PN) is a simple digital signal processorlike computing element. The array of PNs is laid out in one dimension and operates synchronously (Le., all the PNs execute the same instruction each clock cycle). The instructions are provided by an external program sequencer, which has a program memory and instruction fetch and decode capability. The program sequencer also manages all inpudoutput to and from the PN array. Data representation is digital jixed-point. Each PN has a 9-bit by 16-bit multiplier, a 32-bit adder, a logic unit, a 32-word register file, a 12-bit weight address unit, and 4K bytes of storage for weights and coefficients. The internal buses and registers are 16 bits. Each PN can compute one multiply accumulate per clock cycle. The use of fixed-point arithmetic is justified on the grounds of cost; and for practically all current learning algorithms and neural network applications, the use of arithmetic precision higher than that described here is considered unnecessary. CNAPS uses on-chip memories, which makes it possible to perform on-chip learning. The total synaptic connections per chip are as follows: 2M 1-bit weights

256K 8-bit weights

At 25 MHz, a single CNAPS chip can perform 1.6 billion multiply accumulates per second. An 8-chip system can perform 12.8 billion multiply accumulates per second. Thus, in back-propagation learning, the 8-chip system can learn at 2 billion weight updates per second, assuming that all the PNs are busy. To get an idea of what these numbers imply, the NETtalk network (developed originally by Sejnowski and Rosenberg, 1987), which normally takes about 4 hours of training on a SUN SPARC workstation, would fit onto a single CNAPS chip and require only about 7 seconds to train (Hammerstrom and Rahfuss, 1992).

Boltzmann/Mean-Field-Theory Learning Chip
For our second VLSI chip, we have chosen a high-performance hybrid chip for the implementation of Boltzmann and mean-field-theory learning algorithms, fabricated by Bellcore (Alspector et al., 1991b, 1992a, 1992b). Although, indeed, this chip is restricted

Array of PNs for parallel data operation

program, sequencer




FIGURE 15.4 Single instruction stream, multiple data stream.

604 15 I VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks

for use on a particular class of learning algorithms, it enjoys a wide range of applications, and in that sense it may be viewed to be of general-purpose use. From Chapter 8 we recall that both the Boltzmann and mean-field-theory learning algorithms are as capable as the back-propagation algorithm of learning difficult problems. In computer simulation, back-propagation learning has the advantage in that it is often orders of magnitude faster than Boltzmann learning; mean-field-theory learning lies somewhere between the two, though closer to back-propagation learning. However, the local nature of both Boltzmann learning and mean-field-theory learning makes them easier to cast into electronics than back-propagation learning. Indeed, by implementing them in VLSI form, it becomes possible to speed up the learning process in the Boltzmann machine and mean-field-theory machine by orders of magnitude, which makes them both attractive for practical applications. A key issue in the hardware implementation of Boltzmann learning and mean-fieldtheory learning is how to account for the effect of temperature T, which plays the role of a control parameter during the annealing schedule. A practical way in which this effect may be realized is to add a physical noise term to the activation potential of each neuron in the network. Specifically, neuron j is designed to perform the activation computation (see Fig. 15.5)
sj = p(u,

+ nj)

(1 5.15)

where v, and sj are the activation potential and output signal of neuron j , respectively, and nj is an external noise term applied to neuronj. The function q(-)is a monotonic nonlinear function such as the hyperbolic tangent tanh(.) with a variable gain (midpoint slope) denoted by g. The details of the noise term n, and the function q(*)depend on whether Boltzmann learning or mean-field-theory learning is being simulated. In simulations of the Boltzmann machine, the gain g is made high so as to permit the function q(.) approach a step function. The noise term n, is chosen from a zero-mean Gaussian distribution, whose width is proportional to the temperature T. In order to account for the role of temperature T, the noise n, is thus slowly reduced in accordance with the prescribed annealing schedule. In simulations of mean-field-theory learning, on the other hand, the noise term is set equal to zero. But for this application, the gain g of the function p(*)has a finite value chosen to be proportional to the reciprocal of temperature T taken from the annealing schedule. The nonlinearity of the function q ( * )is thus “sharpened” as the annealing schedule of decreasing temperature proceeds. Alspector et al. (1991b, 1992a) describe a microchip implementation of the Boltzmann machine. The chip contains 32 neurons with 992 connections &e., 496 bidirectional synapses). The chip includes a noise generator that supplies 32 uncorrelated pseudorandom noise sources simultaneously to all the neurons in the system. The traditional method for

Activation potentid


Nonlinearity Output


FIGURE 15.5 Circuit for simulating the activation of a neuron used in the Boltzmann machine or mean-field-theory machine.

15.4 / Neurocornputing Hardware 605

generating a pseudorandom bit stream is to use a linear feedback shift register (LFSR)? However, the use of a separate LFSR for each neuron (in order to obtain uncorrelated noise from one neuron to another) requires an unacceptable overhead for VLSI implementation. Alspector et al. (1991a) describe a method of generating multiple, arbitrarily shifted, pseudorandom bit streams from a single LSFR, with each bit stream being obtained by tapping the outputs of selected cells (flip-flops) in the LFSR and feeding these tapped outputs through a set of exclusive-OR gates. This method enables many neurons to share a single LFSR, resulting in an acceptably small overhead for VLSI implementation. The individual noise sources (produced in the manner described here) are summed along with the weighted postsynaptic signals from other neurons at the input to each neuron. This is done in order to implement the simulated annealing process of the stochastic Boltzmann machine. The neuron amplifiers implement a nonlinear activation function with a variable gain so as to cater to the gain-sharpening requirement of the mean-fieldtheory learning technique. Most of the area covered by the “hybrid” microchip is occupied by the array of synapses. Each synapse digitally stores a weight ranging from - 15 to + 15 as binary words consisting of 4 bits plus sign. The analog voltage input from the presynaptic neuron is multiplied by the weight stored in the synapse, producing an output current. Although the synapses can have their weights set externally, they are designed to be adaptive. In particular, they store the “instantaneous” correlations produced after annealing, and therefore adjust the synaptic weight wji in an “on-line” fashion in accordance with the learning rule

Awji =



sgn[(sjsi)+ - (sjsz)-]


where K is a fixed step size. The learning rule of Eq. (15.16) is called Manhattan updating (Peterson and Hartman, 1989). In the learning rule described in Eq. (8.75), the synaptic weights are changed according to gradient descent and therefore each gradient component (weight change) will be of different size. On the other hand, in the Manhattan learning rule of Eq. (15.16), a step is taken in a slightly different direction along a vector whose components are all of equal size. In this latter form of learning, everything about the gradient is thrown away, except for the knowledge as to which quadrant the gradient lies in, with the result that learning proceeds on a lattice. In the microchip described by Alspector et al. (1991b), the fixed step size K = 1, and so the synaptic weight wji is changed by one unit at each iteration of the mean-field-theory learning algorithm. An on-line procedure is used for weight updates, where only a single correlation is taken per pattern. Thus there is no basic difference between counting correlations and counting occurrences as described in Chapter 8. Also, the use of on-line weight updates avoids the problem of memory storage at synapses. The chip is designed to be cascaded with similar chips in a board-level system that can be accessed externally by a computer. The nodes of a particular chip that sum currents
A shift register of length m is a device consisting of m consecutive two-state memory stages (flip-flops) regulated by a single timing clock. At each clock pulse, the state (represented by binary symbol 1 or 0) of each memory stage is shifted to the next stage down the line. To prevent the shift register from emptying by the end of m clock pulses, we use a logical (i.e., Boolean) function of the states of the rn memory stages to compute a feedback term, and apply it to the first memory stage of the shift register. The most important special form of this feedback shift register is the linear case in which the feedback function is obtained by using modulo2 adders to combine the outputs of the various memory stages. A binary sequence generated by a linear feedback shift register is called a linear maximal sequence and is always periodic with a period defined by

where m is the length of the shift register. Linear maximal sequences are also referred to as pseudorandom or pseudonoise (PN) sequences,The term “random” comes from the fact that these sequences have many of the physical properties usually associated with a truly random binary sequence (Golomb, 1964).

606 15 / VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks

from synapses for the net activation potential of a neuron are available externally for connection to other chips and also for external clamping of neurons. Alspector et al. (1992a) have used this system to perform learning experimentson the parity and replication (identity)problems, thereby facilitating comparisons with previous simulations (Alspector et al., 1991b). The parity problem is a generalization of the XOR problem for arbitrary input size. The goal of the replication problem is for the output to duplicate the bit pattern found on the input after being encoded by the hidden layer. For real-time operation, it is reported that the speed for on-chip learning is roughly lo8synaptic connections per second per chip. In another study (Alspectoret al., 1992b), a single chip was used to perform experiments on content-addressable memory using mean-field-theory learning. It is demonstrated that about 100,000 codewords per second can be stored and retrieved by the chip. Moreover, close agreement is reported between the experimental results and the computer simulations performed by Hartman (1991). These results demonstrate that mean-field-theory learning is able to provide the largest storage per neuron for error-correcting memories reported in the literature at that time.

For the description of a general-purposehybrid chip designed with multilayer perceptrons in mind, we have chosen a reconfigurable chip called the ANNA (Analog Neural Network Arithmetic and logic unit) chip, which is a hybrid analog-digital neural network chip developed by AT&T Bell Labs (Boser et al., 1992; Sackinger et al., 1992). The hybrid architecture is designed to match the arithmetic precision of the hardware to the computational requirements of neural networks. In particular, experimental work has shown that the precision requirements of neurons within a multilayer perceptron vary, in that higher accuracy is often needed in the output layer, for example, for selective rejection of ambiguous or other unclassifiable patterns (Boser et al., 1992). A hybrid architecture may be used to deal with a situation of this kind by implementing the bulk of the neural computations with low-precision analog devices, but critical connections are implemented on a digital processor with higher accuracy. Figure 15.6 shows a simplified architecture of the ANNA chip. The architectural layout shown in this figure leaves out many design details of the chip, but it is adequate for a description of how the multilayer perceptron designed to perform pattern classification is implemented on the chip. The ANNA chip evaluates eight inner products of state vector x and eight synaptic weight vectors w in parallel. The state vector is loaded into a barrel , shifter, and the eight weight vectors are selected from a large (4096) on-chip weight memory by means of a multiplexer; the resulting scalar values of the inner products

w, : x

j = l , 2 , . . . ,8


are then passed through a neuron function (sigmoidal nonlinearity) denoted by cp(-), yielding a corresponding set of scalar neural outputs

zj = ( ( j x , pwT)

j = 1,2,. . . , 8


The whole neuron-function evaluation process takes 200 ns, or four clock cycles. The chip can be reconfigured for synaptic weight and input state vectors of varying dimension, namely, 64, 128, and 256. These figures also correspond to the number of synapses per neuron. The input state vector x is supplied by a shift register that can be shifted by one, two, three, or four positions in two clock cycles (100 ns). Correspondingly, one, two, three,

weight memory

8 weight vectors w. I

z. = (P(xTw.) I 1

Chip input

Barrel shifter

FIGURE 15.6 Simplified architecture of the ANNA chip. (From E. Sackinger et al., 1992a, with permission of IEEE.)

or four new data values are read into the input end of the shift register. Thus, this barrel shifter serves two useful purposes: It permits the use of sequential loading. It is the ideal preprocessor for convolutionalnetworks characterizedby local receptive fields and weight sharing. The barrel shifter on the chip has length 64. It is operated in parallel with the neuronfunction unit, such that a new state vector is available as soon as a new calculation cycle starts. There are a total of 4096 analog weight values stored on the chip. These values can be grouped in a flexible way into weight vectors of varying dimension: 64, 128, and 256. Thus, on the same chip it is possible to have, for example, simultaneously thirty-two weight vectors of dimension 64, eight weight vectors of dimension 128, and four weight vectors of dimension 256. Assuming that all neurons on the chip are configured for the maximum size of 256 synapses, the chip can evaluate a maximum of 10" connections per second (Us) as shown by the following calculation: 8 neurons X 256 synapses/200 ns = 1O'O C/s

10 GC/s

In practice, however, the speed of operation of the chip may be lower than this number for two reasons:


Neuron-function unit:

8 scalar outputs zj

608 15 / VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks
a a

Full use is not made of the chip’s parallelism. The neuron-function unit has to wait for the barrel shifter to prepare the input state vector for the next calculation cycle.

The ANNA chip is implemented in a 0.9-pm CMOS technology, containing 180,000 transistors on a 4.5 X 7 mm2 die. The chip implements 4096 physical synapses. The resolution of the synaptic weights is 6 bits, and that of the states (input/output of the neurons) is 3 bits. Additionally, a 4-bit scaling factor can be programmed for each neuron to extend the dynamic range of the weights, as needed. The chip uses analog computation internally, but all input/output is digital. This hybrid form of implementation combines the advantages of high synaptic density, high speed, low power consumption of analog technology, and ease of interfacing to a digital system such as a digital signal processor (DSP). Indeed, for practical use, the chip has to be integrated into a digital system required to perform three principal functions:
a Memory controller, supplying and storing the state data to and from the chip. a Sequencer, generating microcode words that correspond to the network topology to

be evaluated.

Refresh controller, refreshing the dynamic on-chip weight storage.

Boser et al. (1992) and Sackinger et al. (1992) describe an important application of the ANNA chip for the implementation of high-speed optical character recognition (OCR) with a total of 136,000 connections on a single chip. The general structure of the OCR network (for recognition of handwritten digits) is a multilayer perceptron consisting of an input layer, four hidden layers, and an output layer, as shown in Fig. 15.7. The input layer has 400 nodes, corresponding directly to the 20 X 20 pixel image; that is, no preprocessing, such as feature extraction, is done. The compositionsof the five computation layers, expressed in terms of numbers of neurons and synapses, are given in Fig. 15.7. The 10 outputs of the network represent 10 digits in a “1 out of 10” code. The outputs of the neurons have real values (as opposed to thresholded values); hence the network output contains information not only about the classification result (the most active digit), but also about the confidence of the decision made. Moreover, since there is no feedback in the network, the classification can be performed in a single pass. Of the five computation layers of the network, only the output layer is fully connected, with all synaptic weights being independent. The four hidden layers are carefully constrained to improve the generalization capability of the network for input patterns not seen during the training process. These constraints are symbolized by the local receptive fields shown shaded in Fig. 15.7, an issue that was discussed at some length in Chapter 6.

Layer Neurons Synapses

300 1,200

2 1
20 x 20 (= 400) inputs Receptive field of neuron 0 Neuron


1,200 50,000 3,136



FIGURE 15.7 General structure of the with permission of IEEE.)

OCR network. (From E. Sackinger et al., 1992a,

15.4 / Neurocornputing Hardware 609

TABLE 15.1 Execution Time of OCR Network on ANNA Chip and SUN Workstation (adapted from Sackinger et al., 1992)

Layer Hidden layer 1 Hidden layer 2 Hidden layer 3 Hidden layer 4 Output layer



330 ps
210 ps

290 ms
10 ms

320 ps
100 ps

190 ms
5 ms 5 ms 0.5 s

960 ps

Table 15.1 presents a summary of the execution time of the OCR network implemented using the ANNA chip, compared to a SUN SPARC 1 + workstation. This table shows that a classification rate of 1000 characters per second can be achieved using a pipelined system consisting of the ANNA chip and a DSP. This rate corresponds to a speedup factor of 500 over the SUN implementation.

Neuromorphic VLSI Chips
For our last neurocomputing hardware topic, we have opted for special-purposeneuromorphic information-processing structures using analog VLSI technology. The purpose of these structures is to solve a similar class of problems that nervous systems were designed to solve, in which case the approach that nature has evolved is taken seriously indeed (Faggin and Mead, 1990). The development of these structures has been pioneered by Mead and co-workers at CalTech, and which has also inspired many other researchers to follow a similar route. The silicon retina (Mahowald and Mead, 1989), the silicon cochlea (Watts et al., 1992), and the analog VLSI model of binaural hearing (Mead et al., 1991) are outstanding examples of this novel approach. A brief description of the silicon retina is presented in the sequel. The silicon retina and the other neuromorphic VLSI chips referred to herein are not only able to perform difficult signal processing computations by mimicking neurobiology, but they do so in a highly efficient manner." The retina, more than any other part of the brain, is where we begin to put together the relationships between the outside world represented by a visual sense, its physical image projected onto an array of receptors, and the first neural images. The retina is a thin sheet of neural tissue that lines the posterior hemisphere of the eyeball (Sterling, 1990).The retina's task is to convert an optical image into a neural image for transmission down the optic nerve to a multitude of centers for further analysis. This is a complex task, as evidenced by the synaptic organization of the retina.

Faggin (1991) presents a performance assessment of neurocomputation using special-purpose VLSI chips. The following figures are presented, based on the status of VLSI technology in 1991: Number of processors Number of weights Speed of computation Total computation Processing energetic efficiency Chip energetic efficiency lOOK lOOK 1P S 100 x lo9 operation/s IO-" J/operation IO-" J/operation

610 15 / VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks

In all vertebrate retinas the transformation from optical to neural image involves three stages (Sterling, 1990):
w w

Photo transduction by a layer of receptor neurons. Transmission of the resulting signals (produced in response to light) by chemical synapses to a layer of bipolar cells. Transmission of these signals, also by chemical synapses, to output neurons that are called ganglion cells.


At both synaptic stages (i.e., from receptor to bipolar cells, and from bipolar to ganglion cells), there are specialized laterally connected neurons, called horizontal cells and amacrine cells, respectively. The task of these neurons is to modify the transmission across the synaptic layers. There are also centrifugal elements, called inter-plexiform cells; their task is to convey signals from the inner synaptic layer back to the outer one. Figure 15.8 shows a simplified circuit diagram of the silicon retina built by Mead and Mahowald (1988), which is modeled on the distal portion of the vertebrate retina. This diagram emphasizes the lateral spread of the resistive network, corresponding to the horizontal cell layer of the vertebrate retina. The primary signal pathway proceeds through the photoreceptor and the circuitry representing the bipolar cell, the latter being shown in the inset. The image signal is processed in parallel at each node of the network. The key element in the outer plexiform layer is the triad synapse, which is located at the base of the photoreceptor. The triad synapse provides the point of contact among the photoreceptor, the horizontal cells, and the bipolar cells. The computation performed at the triad synapse proceeds as follows (Mahowald and Mead, 1989):

The photoreceptor computes the logarithm of the intensity of incident light. The horizontal cells form a resistive network that spatio-temporally averages the output produced by the photoreceptor. The bipolar cell produces an output proportional to the difference between the signals generated by the photoreceptor and the horizontal cell.



The net result of these computations is that the silicon retina generates, in real time, outputs that correspond directly to signals observed in the corresponding layers of biological retinas. It demonstrates a tolerance for device imperfections that is characteristic of a collective analog system. A commercial product resulting from the research done by Mead and co-workers on the silicon retina is the Synaptics OCR chip, manufactured by Synaptics Corporation for use in a device that reads the MICR code at the bottom of cheques. The chip is of an analog design, based on subthreshold CMOS technology, and customized for this specific application. Mention should also be made of independent work done by Boahen and Andreou (1992) on a contrast-sensitive silicon retina, which models all major synaptic interactions in the outer plexiform of the vertebrate retina, using current-mode subthreshold CMOS technology. This silicon retina permits resolution to be traded off for enhanced signal-tonoise ratio, thereby revealing low-contrast stimuli in the presence of large transistor mismatch. It thus provides the basis of an edge-detection algorithm with a naturally builtin regularization capability. The work of Mead and Andreou and their respective fellow researchers on silicon retinas validates an important principle enunciated by Winograd and Cowan (1963) that it is indeed possible to design reliable networks using unreliable circuit elements.

15.4 / Neurocomputing Hardware 611

FIGURE 15.8 The silicon retina. Diagram of the resistive network and a single pixel element, shown in the circular window. The silicon model of the triad synapse consists of the conductance (G) by which the photoreceptor drives the resistive network, and the amplifier that takes the difference between the photoreceptor ( P ) output and the voltage on the resistive network. In addition to a triad synapse, each pixel contains six resistors and a capacitor C that represents the parasitic capacitance of the resistive network. These pixels are tiled in a hexagonal array. The resistive network results from a hexagonal tiling of pixels. (Reprinted from Neural Networks, 1, C.A. Mead and M. Mahowald, “A silicon model of early visual processing,” pp. 91-97, copyright 1988 with kind permission from Pergamon Press Ltd., Headington Hill Hall, Oxford OX3 OBW, UK.)

612 15 I VLSl Implementations of Neural Networks

15.5 Concluding Remarks
This being the last section of the whole book, it is rather appropriate that we use it for some concluding remarks on neural networks in the context of their engineering applications, with a look to the future. Much of the current research effort on neural networks has focused on pattern classification. Given the practical importance of pattern classification and its rather pervasive nature, and the fact that neural networks are so well suited for the task of pattern classification, this concentration of research effort has been largely the right thing to do. In so doing, we have been able to lay down the foundations of adaptivepattem classiJcation. However, we have reached the stage where we have to think of classification systems in a much broader sense, if we are to be successful in solving classification problems of a more complex and sophisticated nature than hitherto. Figure 15.9 depicts the layout of a “hypothetical” classification system (Hammerstrom, 1992). The first level of the system receives sensory data generated by some source of information. The second level extracts a set of features characterizing the sensory data. The third level classifies the features into one or more distinct categories, which are then put info global context by the fourth level. The final level may, for example, put the parsed input into some form of a database for an end user. The key feature that distinguishes the system of Fig. 15.9 from the traditional form of a pattern classification system is the bidirectional flow of information between most levels of the system. Specifically, there are provisions made for two interactive operations in the system:

Recognition, resulting from the forward flow of information from one level of the system to the next as in a traditional pattern classification system. Focusing,5whereby a higher level of the system is able selectively to influence the processing of information at a lower level by virtue of knowledge gained from past data.

The need for focusing may be argued on the grounds of a limited capacity that is ordinarily available for information processing, as Mesulam (1985) points out in the context of human attention6:“If the brain had infinite capacity for information processing, there would be little need for attentional mechanisms.” From this quote, we may infer that the use of focusing provides a mechanism for a more efficient utilization of informationprocessing resources. Thus the novelty of the pattern-classification system shown in Fig. 15.9 lies in knowledge o the target domain and its exploitation by lower levels of the system to improve overall f system performance, given the fundamental constraint of a limited information-processing capacity. It is our belief that the evolution of pattern classification using neural networks will be in the direction of creating models that are continually influenced by knowledge of the target domain (Hammerstrom, 1992). We envision this new class of machines to have the following distinctive characteristics:

Ability to extract contextual knowledge, and exploit it through the use of focusing mechanisms

An example of a hierarchical focusing or selective attentional mechanism is described by Fukushima (1988a), which is a modification of the layered model neocognitron also pioneered by Fukushima (1975, 198813). The mechanism described therein enables the network to focus attention on an individual character(s) in an image composed of multiple characters or a greatly deformed character that is also contaminated with noise, demonstrating a remarkable performance. An attentional mechanism also features in the development of adaptive resonance theory (Carpenter and Grossberg, 1987), which involves the combination of bottom-up adaptive filtering and top-down template matching. For an essay on visual attention, what it is, and what it is for, see Allport (1989).

15.5 I Concluding Remarks 613

FIGURE 15.9 Block diagram of pattern classifier with contextual feedback.


Localized rather than distributed representation of knowledge Sparse architecture, emphasizing network modularity and hierarchy as principles of neural network design

We refer to pattern classification performed by this new class of machines as intelligent pattern classiJcation, the realization of which can only be attained by combining neural networks with other appropriate tools. A useful tool that comes to mind here is the Viterbi algorithm (Forney, 1973; Viterbi, 1967), which is a form of dynamic programming designed to deal with sequential information processing7 that is an inherent characteristic of the system described in Fig. 15.9. Control, another area of applicationnaturally suited for neural networks, is also evolving in its own way in the direction of intelligent control. This ultimate form of control is defined as the ability of a system to comprehend, reason, and learn about processes, disturbances, and operating conditions (6;strom and McAvoy, 1992). As with intelligent pattern classification, the key attribute that distinguishes intelligent control from classical control is the extraction and exploitation of knowledge for improved system performance. The fundamental goals of intelligent control may be described as follows (White and Sofge, 1992):

Full utilization of knowledge of a system and/or feedback from a system to provide reliable control in accordance with some preassigned performance criterion Use of the knowledge to control the system in an intelligent manner, as a human expert may function in light of the same knowledge Improved ability to control the system over time through the accumulation of experiential knowledge (i.e., learning from experience)



This is a highly ambitious list of goals, which cannot be attained by the use of neural networks working alone. Rather, we may have to resort to the combined use of neural networks and fuzzy logic. Figure 15.10 presents one way of putting such a combination together (Werbos et al., 1992). The “fuzzy” tools put words from a human expert into a set of rules for use by a nonlinear controller, and the “neural” tools put actual operation data into physical models to further augment the capability of the nonlinear controller. Thus the fuzzy and neural tools work in a complementary fashion, accomplishing together what neither one of them can by working alone. Turning next to signal processing, we have another fertile area for the application of neural networks by virtue of their nonlinear and adaptive characteristics. Many of the physical phenomena responsible for the generation of information-bearing signals encountered in practice (e.g., speech signals, radar signals, sonar signals) are governed by nonlinear dynamics o a nonstationary and complex nature, defying an exact mathematical f
The use of such an approach is described by Burges et al. (1992), where dynamic programming is combined with a neural network for segmenting and recognizing character strings.

614 15 / VLSI Implementations of Neural Networks


FIGURE 15.10 Block diagram of controller combining the use of neural networks and fuzzy logic.

description. To exploit the full information content of such signals at all times, we need an intelligent signal processor, the design of which addresses the following issues:

Nonlinearity, which makes it possible to extract the higher-order statistics of the input signals. Number of degrees of freedom, which means that the system has the right number of adjustable parameters to cope with the complexity of the underlying physical process, avoiding the problems that arise due to underlitting or overfitting the input data. Adaptivity, which enables the system to respond to nonstationary behavior of the unknown environment in which it is embedded. Certain applications require that synaptic weights of the neural network be adjusted continually, while the network is being used; that is, “training” of the network never stops during the processing of incoming signals. Prior information, the exploitation of which specializes (biases) the system design and thereby enhances its performance. Information preservation, which requires that no useful information be discarded before the final decision-making process; such a requirement usually means that soft decision making is preferrable to hard decision making. Multisensor fusion, which makes it possible to “fuse” data gathered about an operational environment by a multitude of sensors, thereby realizing an overall level of performance that is far beyond the capability of any of the sensors working alone. Attentional mechanism, whereby, through interaction with a user or in a self-organized manner, the system is enabled to focus its computing power around a particular point in an image or a particular location in space for more detailed analysis
The realization of an intelligent signal processor that can provide for these needs would certainly require the hybridization of neural networks with other appropriate tools such as time-frequency analysis, chaotic dynamics, and fuzzy logic. Needless to say, current pattern classification, control, and signa1 processing systems have a long way to go before they can qualify as intelligent machines. The bulk of the material presented in this chapter has been devoted to VLSI implementations of neural networks. As with current applications of neural networks, we will certainly have to look to VLSI chips/systems, perhaps more sophisticated than those in use today,

Problems 615

to build working models of intelligent machines for pattern classification, control, and signal processing applications.

15.1 Consider Eq. (15.5) describing the behavior of an n-channel MOS transistor. Assuming that the transistor is driven into saturation (i.e., the drain voltage is high enough), we may simplify this equation as follows:

Using this relation, show that the difference between the two drain currents of the transconductance amplifier of Fig. 15.2 is related to the differential input voltage V, - V2 as follows:

where Z is the constant current supplied by the bottom transistor in Fig. 15.2. ,

15.2 The MOS transistors shown in Fig. 15.3 model inhibitory and excitatory synapses; their input-output relations are defined by Eqs. (15.13) and (15.14). Determine the transconductances realized by these transistors, and thereby confirm their respective roles. 15.3 The ETANN chip (Holler et al., 1989) and the EPSILON chip (Murray et al., 1991) use analog and hybrid approaches for the VLSI implementation of neural networks, respectively. Study the papers cited here, and make up a list comparing their individual designs and capabilities. 15.4 Moon et al. (1992) describe a pulse modulation technique known as the pulse duty cycle modulation for the VLSI implementation of a neural network. Referring to this paper, identify the features that distinguish this pulse modulation technique from pulse frequency modulation, emphasizing its advantages and disadvantages. 15.5 A systolic array (Kung and Leiserson, 1979) provides an architecture for the implementation of a parallel processor. A systolic emulation of learning algorithms is described by Ramacher (1990) and Ramacher et al. (1991). Study this architecture and discuss its suitability for VLSI implementation. 15.6 The contrast-sensitivesilicon retina described by Boahen and Andreou (1992) appears to exhibit a regularization capability. In light of the regularization theory presented in Chapter 7, discuss this effect by referring to the paper cited here.

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