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We demonstrate a unique energy efficient methodology to use Phase Change Memory (PCM) as synapse in ultra-dense large scale neuromorphic systems. PCM devices with different chalcogenide materials were characterized to demonstrate synaptic behavior. Multi-physical simulations were used to interpret the results. We propose special circuit architecture (“the 2-PCM synapse”), read, write, and reset programming schemes suitable for the use of PCM in neural networks. A versatile behavioral model of PCM which can be used for simulating large scale neural systems is introduced. First demonstration of complex visual pattern extraction from real world data using PCM synapses in a 2-layer spiking neural network (SNN) is shown. System power analysis for different scaled PCM technologies is also provided.