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2018 51st Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture (MICRO) (2018)
Fukuoka, Japan
Oct 20, 2018 to Oct 24, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5386-6240-3
pp: 15-28
Neural networks have become the dominant algorithms rapidly as they achieve state-of-the-art performance in a broad range of applications such as image recognition, speech recognition and natural language processing. However, neural networks keep moving towards deeper and larger architectures, posing a great challenge to the huge amount of data and computations. Although sparsity has emerged as an effective solution for reducing the intensity of computation and memory accesses directly, irregularity caused by sparsity (including sparse synapses and neurons) prevents accelerators from completely leveraging the benefits; it also introduces costly indexing module in accelerators. In this paper, we propose a cooperative software/hardware approach to address the irregularity of sparse neural networks efficiently. Initially, we observe the local convergence, namely larger weights tend to gather into small clusters during training. Based on that key observation, we propose a software-based coarse-grained pruning technique to reduce the irregularity of sparse synapses drastically. The coarse-grained pruning technique, together with local quantization, significantly reduces the size of indexes and improves the network compression ratio. We further design a hardware accelerator, Cambricon-S, to address the remaining irregularity of sparse synapses and neurons efficiently. The novel accelerator features a selector module to filter unnecessary synapses and neurons. Compared with a state-of-the-art sparse neural network accelerator, our accelerator is 1.71× and 1.37× better in terms of performance and energy efficiency, respectively.
learning (artificial intelligence), neural nets

X. Zhou et al., "Cambricon-S: Addressing Irregularity in Sparse Neural Networks through A Cooperative Software/Hardware Approach," 2018 51st Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture (MICRO), Fukuoka, Japan, 2019, pp. 15-28.
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