Enabling Fast Exploration of the Depth-first Scheduling Space for DNN Accelerators

Arne Symons , Marian Verhelst Hardware-efficient AI and ML

Research goal: DNN workloads can be scheduled onto DNN accelerators in many different ways: from layer-by-layer scheduling to cross-layer depth-first scheduling (a.k.a. layer fusion, or cascaded execution). This results in a very broad scheduling space, with each schedule leading to varying hardware (HW) costs in terms of energy and latency. To rapidly explore this vast space for a wide variety of hardware architectures, analytical cost models are crucial to estimate scheduling effects on the HW level.

Gap in the SotA: State-of-the-art cost models are lacking support for exploring the complete depth-first scheduling space, for instance, focusing only on activations while ignoring weights, or modeling only DRAM accesses while overlooking on-chip data movements. These limitations prevent researchers from systematically and accurately understanding the depth-first scheduling space.

Recent results for DeFiNES: This project resulted in a unified modeling framework, DeFiNES, for layer-by-layer and depth-first scheduling to fill in the gaps. DeFiNES enables analytically estimating the hardware cost for possible schedules in terms of both energy and latency, while considering data access at every memory level. This is done for each schedule and HW architecture under study by optimally choosing the active part of the memory hierarchy per unique combination of operand, layer, and feature map tile. The hardware costs are estimated, taking into account both data computation and data copy phases. The analytical cost model is validated against measured data from a taped-out depth-first DNN accelerator, DepFiN, showing good modeling accuracy at the end-to-end neural network level. A comparison with generalized state-of-the-art demonstrates up to 10X better solutions found with DeFiNES. 

DeFiNES is available open source at: https://github.com/ZigZag-Project/DeFiNES 

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Arne Symons
Phd student
Marian Verhelst
Academic staff

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