NNBench-X: A Benchmarking Methodology for Neural Network Accelerator Designs

ACM Transactions on Architecture and Code Optimization(2020)

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AbstractThe tremendous impact of deep learning algorithms over a wide range of application domains has encouraged a surge of neural network (NN) accelerator research. Facilitating the NN accelerator design calls for guidance from an evolving benchmark suite that incorporates emerging NN models. Nevertheless, existing NN benchmarks are not suitable for guiding NN accelerator designs. These benchmarks are either selected for general-purpose processors without considering unique characteristics of NN accelerators or lack quantitative analysis to guarantee their completeness during the benchmark construction, update, and customization.In light of the shortcomings of prior benchmarks, we propose a novel benchmarking methodology for NN accelerators with a quantitative analysis of application performance features and a comprehensive awareness of software-hardware co-design. Specifically, we decouple the benchmarking process into three stages: First, we characterize the NN workloads with quantitative metrics and select the representative applications for the benchmark suite to ensure diversity and completeness. Second, we refine the selected applications according to the customized model compression techniques provided by specific software-hardware co-design. Finally, we evaluate a variety of accelerator designs on the generated benchmark suite. To demonstrate the effectiveness of our benchmarking methodology, we conduct a case study of composing an NN benchmark from the TensorFlow Model Zoo and compress these selected models with various model compression techniques. Finally, we evaluate compressed models on various architectures, including GPU, Neurocube, DianNao, and Cambricon-X.
Neural networks, accelerator, software-hardware co-designs, benchmark
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