Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) have emerged as a powerful neuromorphic computing paradigm to carry out classification and recognition tasks. Nevertheless, the general purpose computing platforms and the custom hardware architectures implemented using standard CMOS technology, have been unable to rival the power efficiency of the human brain. Hence, there is a need for novel nanoelectronic devices that can efficiently model the neurons and synapses constituting an SNN. In this work, we propose a heterostructure composed of a Magnetic Tunnel Junction (MTJ) and a heavy metal as a stochastic binary synapse. Synaptic plasticity is achieved by the stochastic switching of the MTJ conductance states, based on the temporal correlation between the spiking activities of the interconnecting neurons. Additionally, we present a significance driven long-term short-term stochastic synapse comprising two unique binary synaptic elements, in order to improve the synaptic learning efficiency. We demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed synaptic configurations and the stochastic learning algorithm on an SNN trained to classify handwritten digits from the MNIST dataset, using a device to system-level simulation framework. The power efficiency of the proposed neuromorphic system stems from the ultra-low programming energy of the spintronic synapses.
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