Considerations for Neuromorphic Supercomputing in Semiconducting and Superconducting Optoelectronic Hardware

The capability of optical communication coupled with the computational power of electronic circuitry makes optoelectronic systems a promising framework for realizing the high ambitions of neuromorphic systems at the scale of the brain and beyond.



“Any large-scale spiking neuromorphic system striving for complexity at the level of the human brain and beyond will need to be co-optimized for communication and computation. Such reasoning leads to the proposal for optoelectronic neuromorphic platforms that leverage the complementary properties of optics and electronics. Starting from the conjecture that future large-scale neuromorphic systems will utilize integrated photonics and fiber optics for communication in conjunction with analog electronics for computation, we consider two possible paths toward achieving this vision. The first is a semiconductor platform based on analog CMOS circuits and waveguide-integrated photodiodes. The second is a superconducting approach that utilizes Josephson junctions and waveguide-integrated superconducting single-photon detectors. We discuss available devices, assess scaling potential, and provide a list of key metrics and demonstrations for each platform. Both platforms hold potential, but their development will diverge in important respects. Semiconductor systems benefit from a robust fabrication ecosystem and can build on extensive progress made in purely electronic neuromorphic computing but will require III-V light source integration with electronics at an unprecedented scale, further advances in ultra-low capacitance photodiodes, and success from emerging memory technologies. Superconducting systems place near theoretically minimum burdens on light sources (a tremendous boon to one of the most speculative aspects of either platform) and provide new opportunities for integrated, high-endurance synaptic memory. However, superconducting optoelectronic systems will also contend with interfacing low-voltage electronic circuits to semiconductor light sources, the serial biasing of superconducting devices on an unprecedented scale, a less mature fabrication ecosystem, and cryogenic infrastructure.”

View this technical paper here. Published 09/2021.

Primavera BA and Shainline JM (2021) Considerations for Neuromorphic Supercomputing in Semiconducting and Superconducting Optoelectronic Hardware. Front. Neurosci. 15:732368. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.732368


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