Sub-8-Bit Quantization Aware Training for 8-Bit Neural Network Accelerator with On-Device Speech Recognition

We present a novel sub-8-bit quantization-aware training (S8BQAT) scheme for 8-bit neural network accelerators. Our method is inspired from Lloyd-Max compression theory with practical adaptations for a feasible computational overhead during training. With the quantization centroids derived from a 32-bit baseline, we augment training loss with a Multi-Regional Absolute Cosine (MRACos) regularizer that aggregates weights towards their nearest centroid, effectively acting as a pseudo compressor. Additionally, a periodically invoked hard compressor is introduced to improve the convergence rate by emulating runtime model weight quantization. We apply S8BQAT on speech recognition tasks using Recurrent Neural NetworkTransducer (RNN-T) architecture. With S8BQAT, we are able to increase the model parameter size to reduce the word error rate by 4-16% relatively, while still improving latency by 5%.

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