Systolic-CNN: An OpenCL-defined Scalable Run-time-flexible FPGA Accelerator Architecture for Accelerating Convolutional Neural Network Inference in Cloud/Edge Computing

6 Dec 2020  ·  Akshay Dua, Yixing Li, Fengbo Ren ·

This paper presents Systolic-CNN, an OpenCL-defined scalable, run-time-flexible FPGA accelerator architecture, optimized for accelerating the inference of various convolutional neural networks (CNNs) in multi-tenancy cloud/edge computing. The existing OpenCL-defined FPGA accelerators for CNN inference are insufficient due to limited flexibility for supporting multiple CNN models at run time and poor scalability resulting in underutilized FPGA resources and limited computational parallelism. Systolic-CNN adopts a highly pipelined and paralleled 1-D systolic array architecture, which efficiently explores both spatial and temporal parallelism for accelerating CNN inference on FPGAs. Systolic-CNN is highly scalable and parameterized, which can be easily adapted by users to achieve up to 100% utilization of the coarse-grained computation resources (i.e., DSP blocks) for a given FPGA. Systolic-CNN is also run-time-flexible in the context of multi-tenancy cloud/edge computing, which can be time-shared to accelerate a variety of CNN models at run time without the need of recompiling the FPGA kernel hardware nor reprogramming the FPGA. The experiment results based on an Intel Arria/Stratix 10 GX FPGA Development board show that the optimized single-precision implementation of Systolic-CNN can achieve an average inference latency of 7ms/2ms, 84ms/33ms, 202ms/73ms, 1615ms/873ms, and 900ms/498ms per image for accelerating AlexNet, ResNet-50, ResNet-152, RetinaNet, and Light-weight RetinaNet, respectively. Codes are available at

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