NeuroMAX: A High Throughput, Multi-Threaded, Log-Based Accelerator for Convolutional Neural Networks

19 Jul 2020  ·  Mahmood Azhar Qureshi, Arslan Munir ·

Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) require high throughput hardware accelerators for real time applications owing to their huge computational cost. Most traditional CNN accelerators rely on single core, linear processing elements (PEs) in conjunction with 1D dataflows for accelerating convolution operations. This limits the maximum achievable ratio of peak throughput per PE count to unity. Most of the past works optimize their dataflows to attain close to a 100% hardware utilization to reach this ratio. In this paper, we introduce a high throughput, multi-threaded, log-based PE core. The designed core provides a 200% increase in peak throughput per PE count while only incurring a 6% increase in area overhead compared to a single, linear multiplier PE core with same output bit precision. We also present a 2D weight broadcast dataflow which exploits the multi-threaded nature of the PE cores to achieve a high hardware utilization per layer for various CNNs. The entire architecture, which we refer to as NeuroMAX, is implemented on Xilinx Zynq 7020 SoC at 200 MHz processing clock. Detailed analysis is performed on throughput, hardware utilization, area and power breakdown, and latency to show performance improvement compared to previous FPGA and ASIC designs.

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