IISWC 2012
Conference paper

BenchNN: On the broad potential application scope of hardware neural network accelerators

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Recent technology trends have indicated that, although device sizes will continue to scale as they have in the past, supply voltage scaling has ended. As a result, future chips can no longer rely on simply increasing the operational core count to improve performance without surpassing a reasonable power budget. Alternatively, allocating die area towards accelerators targeting an application, or an application domain, appears quite promising, and this paper makes an argument for a neural network hardware accelerator. After being hyped in the 1990s, then fading away for almost two decades, there is a surge of interest in hardware neural networks because of their energy and fault-tolerance properties. At the same time, the emergence of high-performance applications like Recognition, Mining, and Synthesis (RMS) suggest that the potential application scope of a hardware neural network accelerator would be broad. In this paper, we want to highlight that a hardware neural network accelerator is indeed compatible with many of the emerging high-performance workloads, currently accepted as benchmarks for high-performance micro-architectures. For that purpose, we develop and evaluate software neural network implementations of 5 (out of 12) RMS applications from the PARSEC Benchmark Suite. Our results show that neural network implementations can achieve competitive results, with respect to application-specific quality metrics, on these 5 RMS applications. © 2012 IEEE.