CNN Hardware Architecture With Weights Generator Module That Alleviates Impact Of The Memory Wall


A technical paper titled “Mitigating Memory Wall Effects in CNN Engines with On-the-Fly Weights Generation” was published by researchers at Samsung AI Center and University of Cambridge.


“The unprecedented accuracy of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) across a broad range of AI tasks has led to their widespread deployment in mobile and embedded settings. In a pursuit for high-performance and energy-efficient inference, significant research effort has been invested in the design of FPGA-based CNN accelerators. In this context, single computation engines constitute a popular approach to support diverse CNN modes without the overhead of fabric reconfiguration. Nevertheless, this flexibility often comes with significantly degraded performance on memory-bound layers and resource underutilisation due to the suboptimal mapping of certain layers on the engine’s fixed configuration. In this work, we investigate the implications in terms of CNN engine design for a class of models that introduce a pre-convolution stage to decompress the weights at run time. We refer to these approaches as on-the-fly. This paper presents unzipFPGA, a novel CNN inference system that counteracts the limitations of existing CNN engines. The proposed framework comprises a novel CNN hardware architecture that introduces a weights generator module that enables the on-chip on-the-fly generation of weights, alleviating the negative impact of limited bandwidth on memory-bound layers. We further enhance unzipFPGA with an automated hardware-aware methodology that tailors the weights generation mechanism to the target CNN-device pair, leading to an improved accuracy-performance balance. Finally, we introduce an input selective processing element (PE) design that balances the load between PEs in suboptimally mapped layers. The proposed framework yields hardware designs that achieve an average of 2.57x performance efficiency gain over highly optimised GPU designs for the same power constraints and up to 3.94x higher performance density over a diverse range of state-of-the-art FPGA-based CNN accelerators.”

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

Venieris, Stylianos I., Javier Fernandez-Marques, and Nicholas D. Lane. “Mitigating Memory Wall Effects in CNN Engines with On-the-Fly Weights Generation.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2307.13412 (2023).

Related Reading
Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) Knowledge Center
Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) Knowledge Center

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