On-Device Training Under 256KB Memory
On-device training enables the model to adapt to new data collected from the sensors by fine-tuning a pre-trained model. However, the training memory consumption is prohibitive for IoT devices that have tiny memory resources. We propose an algorithm-system co-design framework to make on-device training possible with only 256KB of memory. On-device training faces two unique challenges: (1) the quantized graphs of neural networks are hard to optimize due to mixed bit-precision and the lack of normalization; (2) the limited hardware resource (memory and computation) does not allow full backward computation. To cope with the optimization difficulty, we propose Quantization-Aware Scaling to calibrate the gradient scales and stabilize quantized training. To reduce the memory footprint, we propose Sparse Update to skip the gradient computation of less important layers and sub-tensors. The algorithm innovation is implemented by a lightweight training system, Tiny Training Engine, which prunes the backward computation graph to support sparse updates and offloads the runtime auto-differentiation to compile time. Our framework is the first practical solution for on-device transfer learning of visual recognition on tiny IoT devices (e.g., a microcontroller with only 256KB SRAM), using less than 1/100 of the memory of existing frameworks while matching the accuracy of cloud training+edge deployment for the tinyML application VWW. Our study enables IoT devices to not only perform inference but also continuously adapt to new data for on-device lifelong learning.