ISCA 2024
Conference paper

A Reconfigurable Accelerator with Data Reordering Support for Low-Cost On-Chip Dataflow Switching


The inference of ML models composed of diverse structures, types, and sizes boils down to the execution of different dataflows (i.e. different tiling, ordering, parallelism, and shapes). Using the optimal dataflow for every layer of workload can reduce latency by up to two orders of magnitude over a suboptimal dataflow. Unfortunately, reconfiguring hardware for different dataflows involves on-chip data layout reordering and datapath reconfigurations, leading to non-trivial overhead that hinders ML accelerators from exploiting different dataflows, resulting in suboptimal performance. To address this challenge, we propose FEATHER, an innovative accelerator that leverages a novel spatial array termed NEST and a novel multi-stage reduction network called BIRRD for performing flexible data reduction with layout reordering under the hood, enabling seamless switching between optimal dataflows with negligible latency and resources overhead. For systematically evaluating the performance interaction between dataflows and layouts, we enhance Timeloop, a state-of-the- art dataflow cost modeling and search framework, with layout assessment capabilities, and term it as Layoutloop. We model FEATHER into Layoutloop and also deploy FEATHER end-to-end on the edge ZCU104 FPGA. FEATHER delivers 1.27 ∼ 2.89× inference latency speedup and 1.3 ∼ 6.43× energy efficiency improvement compared to various SoTAs like NVDLA, SIGMA and Eyeriss under ResNet-50 and MobiletNet-V3 in Layoutloop. On practical FPGA devices, FEATHER achieves 2.65/3.91× higher throughput than Xilinx DPU/Gemmini. Remarkably, such performance and energy efficiency enhancements come at only 6% area over a fixed-dataflow Eyeriss-like accelerator.