Modeling Optical Loss And Crosstalk Noise For Silicon-Photonic-Based Neural Networks Of Different Scales 


A technical paper titled “Analysis of Optical Loss and Crosstalk Noise in MZI-based Coherent Photonic Neural Networks” was published by researchers at Colorado State University (Fort Collins), NVIDIA, and Arizona State University.


“With the continuous increase in the size and complexity of machine learning models, the need for specialized hardware to efficiently run such models is rapidly growing. To address such a need, silicon-photonic-based neural network (SP-NN) accelerators have recently emerged as a promising alternative to electronic accelerators due to their lower latency and higher energy efficiency. Not only can SP-NNs alleviate the fan-in and fan-out problem with linear algebra processors, their operational bandwidth can match that of the photodetection rate (typically 100 GHz), which is at least over an order of magnitude faster than electronic counterparts that are restricted to a clock rate of a few GHz. Unfortunately, the underlying silicon photonic devices in SP-NNs suffer from inherent optical losses and crosstalk noise originating from fabrication imperfections and undesired optical couplings, the impact of which accumulates as the network scales up. Consequently, the inferencing accuracy in an SP-NN can be affected by such inefficiencies – e.g., can drop to below 10% – the impact of which is yet to be fully studied. In this paper, we comprehensively model the optical loss and crosstalk noise using a bottom-up approach, from the device to the system level, in coherent SP-NNs built using Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI) devices. The proposed models can be applied to any SP-NN architecture with different configurations to analyze the effect of loss and crosstalk. Such an analysis is important where there are inferencing accuracy and scalability requirements to meet when designing an SP-NN. Using the proposed analytical framework, we show a high power penalty and a catastrophic inferencing accuracy drop of up to 84% for SP-NNs of different scales with three known MZI mesh configurations (i.e., Reck, Clements, and Diamond) due to accumulated optical loss and crosstalk noise.”

Find the technical paper here. Published August 2023 (preprint).

Shafiee, Amin, Sanmitra Banerjee, Krishnendu Chakrabarty, Sudeep Pasricha, and Mahdi Nikdast. “Analysis of Optical Loss and Crosstalk Noise in MZI-based Coherent Photonic Neural Networks.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2308.03249 (2023).

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