TitleCyNAPSE: A Low-power Reconfigurable Neural Inference Accelerator for Spiking Neural Networks
Publication TypeJournal Articles
AuthorsSaha, S., H. Duwe, and J. Zambreno
JournalJournal of Signal Processing Systems

While neural network models keep scaling in depth and computational requirements, biologically accurate models are becoming more interesting for low-cost inference. Coupled with the need to bring more computation to the edge in resource-constrained embedded and IoT devices, specialized ultra-low power accelerators for spiking neural networks are being developed. Having a large variance in the models employed in these networks, these accelerators need to be flexible, user-configurable, performant and energy efficient. In this paper, we describe CyNAPSE, a fully digital accelerator designed to emulate neural dynamics of diverse spiking networks. Since the use case of our implementation is primarily concerned with energy efficiency, we take a closer look at the factors that could improve its energy consumption. We observe that while majority of its dynamic power consumption can be credited to memory traffic, its on-chip components suffer greatly from static leakage. Given that the event-driven spike processing algorithm is naturally memory-intensive and has a large number of idle processing elements, it makes sense to tackle each of these problems towards a more efficient hardware implementation. With a diverse set of network benchmarks, we incorporate a detailed study of memory patterns that ultimately informs our choice of an application-specific network-adaptive memory management strategy to reduce dynamic power consumption of the chip. Subsequently, we also propose and evaluate a leakage mitigation
strategy for runtime control of idle power. Using both the RTL implementation and a software simulation of CyNAPSE, we measure the relative benefits of these undertakings. Results show that our adaptive memory management policy results in up to 22% more reduction in dynamic power consumption.

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