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  1. Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) are brain- inspired computing models incorporating unique temporal dynamics and event-driven processing. Rich dynamics in both space and time offer great challenges and opportunities for efficient processing of sparse spatiotemporal data compared with conventional artificial neural networks (ANNs). Specifically, the additional overheads for handling the added temporal dimension limit the computational capabilities of neuromorphic accelerators. Iterative processing at every time-point with sparse inputs in a temporally sequential manner not only degrades the utilization of the systolic array but also intensifies data movement.In this work, we propose a novel technique and architecture that significantly improve utilization and data movement while efficiently handling temporal sparsity of SNNs on systolic arrays. Unlike time-sequential processing in conventional SNN accelerators, we pack multiple time points into a single time window (TW) and process the computations induced by active synaptic inputs falling under several TWs in parallel, leading to the proposed parallel time batching. It allows weight reuse across multiple time points and enhances the utilization of the systolic array with reduced idling of processing elements, overcoming the irregularity of sparse firing activities. We optimize the granularity of time-domain processing, i.e., the TW size, which significantly impacts the data reuse and utilization.more »We further boost the utilization efficiency by simultaneously scheduling non-overlapping sparse spiking activities onto the array. The proposed architectures offer a unifying solution for general spiking neural networks with commonly exhibited temporal sparsity, a key challenge in hardware acceleration, delivering 248X energy-delay product (EDP) improvement on average compared to an SNN baseline for accelerating various networks. Compared to ANN based accelerators, our approach improves EDP by 47X on the CIFAR10 dataset.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 2, 2023
  2. Abstract As an important class of spiking neural networks (SNNs), recurrent spiking neural networks (RSNNs) possess great computational power and have been widely used for processing sequential data like audio and text. However, most RSNNs suffer from two problems. First, due to the lack of architectural guidance, random recurrent connectivity is often adopted, which does not guarantee good performance. Second, training of RSNNs is in general challenging, bottlenecking achievable model accuracy. To address these problems, we propose a new type of RSNN, skip-connected self-recurrent SNNs (ScSr-SNNs). Recurrence in ScSr-SNNs is introduced by adding self-recurrent connections to spiking neurons. The SNNs with self-recurrent connections can realize recurrent behaviors similar to those of more complex RSNNs, while the error gradients can be more straightforwardly calculated due to the mostly feedforward nature of the network. The network dynamics is enriched by skip connections between nonadjacent layers. Moreover, we propose a new backpropagation (BP) method, backpropagated intrinsic plasticity (BIP), to boost the performance of ScSr-SNNs further by training intrinsic model parameters. Unlike standard intrinsic plasticity rules that adjust the neuron's intrinsic parameters according to neuronal activity, the proposed BIP method optimizes intrinsic parameters based on the backpropagated error gradient of a well-defined global lossmore »function in addition to synaptic weight training. Based on challenging speech, neuromorphic speech, and neuromorphic image data sets, the proposed ScSr-SNNs can boost performance by up to 2.85% compared with other types of RSNNs trained by state-of-the-art BP methods.« less
  3. Spiking neural networks (SNNs) have emerged as a new generation of neural networks, presenting a brain-inspired event-driven model with advantages in spatiotemporal information processing. Due to the need for high power consumption of compute-intensive neural accelerators, adequate power delivery network (PDN) design is a key requirement to ensure power efficiency and integrity. However, PDN design for SNN accelerators has not been extensively studied despite its great potential benefit in energy efficiency. In this paper, we present the first study on dynamic heterogeneous voltage regulation (HVR) for spiking neural accelerators to maximize system energy efficiency while ensuring power integrity. We propose a novel sparse-workload-aware dynamic PDN control policy, which enables high energy efficiency of sparse spiking computation on a systolic array. By exploring sparse inputs and all-or-none nature of spiking computations for PDN control, we explore different types of PDNs to accelerate spiking convolutional neural networks (S-CNNs) trained with the dynamic vision sensor (DVS) gesture dataset. Furthermore, we demonstrate various power gating schemes to further optimize the proposed PDN architecture, which leads to a more than a three-fold reduction in total energy overhead for spiking neural computations on systolic array-based accelerators.
  4. Spiking neural networks (SNNs) are well suited for spatio-temporal learning and implementations on energy-efficient event-driven neuromorphic processors. However, existing SNN error backpropagation (BP) methods lack proper handling of spiking discontinuities and suffer from low performance compared with the BP methods for traditional artificial neural networks. In addition, a large number of time steps are typically required to achieve decent performance, leading to high latency and rendering spike based computation unscalable to deep architectures. We present a novel Temporal Spike Sequence Learning Backpropagation (TSSL-BP) method for training deep SNNs, which breaks down error backpropagation across two types of inter-neuron and intra-neuron dependencies and leads to improved temporal learning precision. It captures inter-neuron dependencies through presynaptic firing times by considering the all-or-none characteristics of firing activities, and captures intra-neuron dependencies by handling the internal evolution of each neuronal state in time. TSSL-BP efficiently trains deep SNNs within a much shortened temporal window of a few steps while improving the accuracy for various image classification datasets including CIFAR10.
  5. Spiking neural networks (SNNs) well support spatio-temporal learning and energy-efficient event-driven hardware neuromorphic processors. As an important class of SNNs, recurrent spiking neural networks (RSNNs) possess great computational power. However, the practical application of RSNNs is severely limited by challenges in training. Biologically-inspired unsupervised learning has limited capability in boosting the performance of RSNNs. On the other hand, existing backpropagation (BP) methods suffer from high complexity of unfolding in time, vanishing and exploding gradients, and approximate differentiation of discontinuous spiking activities when applied to RSNNs. To enable supervised training of RSNNs under a well-defined loss function, we present a novel Spike-Train level RSNNs Backpropagation (ST-RSBP) algorithm for training deep RSNNs. The proposed ST-RSBP directly computes the gradient of a rate-coded loss function defined at the output layer of the network w.r.t tunable parameters. The scalability of ST-RSBP is achieved by the proposed spike-train level computation during which temporal effects of the SNN is captured in both the forward and backward pass of BP. Our ST-RSBP algorithm can be broadly applied to RSNNs with a single recurrent layer or deep RSNNs with multiple feedforward and recurrent layers. Based upon challenging speech and image datasets including TI46, N-TIDIGITS, Fashion-MNIST and MNIST, ST-RSBPmore »is able to train SNNs with an accuracy surpassing that of the current state-of-the-art SNN BP algorithms and conventional non-spiking deep learning models.« less