An Efficient FIFO Based Accelerator for Convolutional Neural Networks


Over the last decade, Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have become the go to technique to perform tasks in deep learning applications such as computer vision, speech recognition, etc. LeCun et al (Nature 521(7553), 436–44) 2015. Even though CNNs are very efficient at these tasks they are not suitable for embedded applications due to the limited power budget. In this work we present an improved architecture to process the convolution layers in a CNN. This work is based on our earlier architecture which uses FIFO (First In First Out memory)s to accelerate CNNs. Panchbhaiyye and Ogunfunmi 2020. The architecture presented takes advantage of sparsity in CNN layer’s inputs and outputs to achieve performance improvement. We evaluate the proposed improvement on 16 bit floating point and 8 bit integer data types and find that this leads to more than 13% improvement in the processing time of convolution layers for VGG16 with float16 data type. Also, we show how this architecture can be used to compute fully connected layers. Overall we are able to exceed the performance of state-of-the-art architectures by more than 1.65x using an inexpensive Pynq Z1 board running at 100Mhz.

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Correspondence to Tokunbo Ogunfunmi.

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Panchbhaiyye, V., Ogunfunmi, T. An Efficient FIFO Based Accelerator for Convolutional Neural Networks. J Sign Process Syst (2021).

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  • Convolution neural networks
  • FPGA
  • Machine learning
  • Dataflow