First Advisor

Daniel W. Hammerstrom

Term of Graduation

Fall 2009

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Electrical and Computer Engineering




Computer architecture, Mixed signal circuits, Neural computers, Academic theses



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, xiii, 250 pages)


The semiconductor/computer industry has been following Moore's law for several decades and has reaped the benefits in speed and density of the resultant scaling. Transistor density has reached almost one billion per chip, and transistor delays are in picoseconds. However, scaling has slowed down, and the semiconductor industry is now facing several challenges. Hybrid CMOS/nano technologies, such as CMOL, are considered as an interim solution to some of the challenges. Another potential architectural solution includes specialized architectures for applications/models in the intelligent computing domain, one aspect of which includes abstract computational models inspired from the neuro/cognitive sciences.

Consequently in this dissertation, we focus on the hardware implementations of Bayesian Memory (BM), which is a (Bayesian) Biologically Inspired Computational Model (BICM). This model is a simplified version of George and Hawkins' model of the visual cortex, which includes an inference framework based on Judea Pearl's belief propagation.

We then present a "hardware design space exploration" methodology for implementing and analyzing the (digital and mixed-signal) hardware for the BM. This particular methodology involves: analyzing the computational/operational cost and the related micro-architecture, exploring candidate hardware components, proposing various custom hardware architectures using both traditional CMOS and hybrid nanotechnology - CMOL, and investigating the baseline performance/price of these architectures. The results suggest that CMOL is a promising candidate for implementing a BM. Such implementations can utilize the very high density storage/computation benefits of these new nano-scale technologies much more efficiently; for example, the throughput per 858 mm2 (TPM) obtained for CMOL based architectures is 32 to 40 times better than the TPM for a CMOS based multiprocessor/multi-FPGA system, and almost 2000 times better than the TPM for a PC implementation.

We later use this methodology to investigate the hardware implementations of cortex-scale spiking neural system, which is an approximate neural equivalent of BICM based cortex-scale system. The results of this investigation also suggest that CMOL is a promising candidate to implement such large-scale neuromorphic systems.

In general, the assessment of such hypothetical baseline hardware architectures provides the prospects for building large-scale (mammalian cortex-scale) implementations of neuromorphic/Bayesian/intelligent systems using state-of-the-art and beyond state-of-the-art silicon structures.


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