Understanding Reuse, Performance, and Hardware Cost of DNN Dataflows: A Data-Centric Approach.
The data partitioning and scheduling strategies used by DNN accelerators to leverage reuse and perform staging are known as dataflow, and they directly impact the performance and energy efficiency of DNN accelerator designs. An accelerator microarchitecture dictates the dataflow(s) that can be employed to execute a layer or network. Selecting an optimal dataflow for a layer shape can have a large impact on utilization and energy efficiency, but there is a lack of understanding on the choices and consequences of dataflows, and of tools and methodologies to help architects explore the co-optimization design space. In this work, we first introduce a set of data-centric directives to concisely specify the DNN dataflow space in a compiler-friendly form. We then show how these directives can be analyzed to infer various forms of reuse and to exploit them using hardware capabilities. We codify this analysis into an analytical cost model, MAESTRO (Modeling Accelerator Efficiency via Spatio-Temporal Reuse and Occupancy), that estimates various cost-benefit tradeoffs of a dataflow including execution time and energy efficiency for a DNN model and hardware configuration. We demonstrate the use of MAESTRO to drive a hardware design space exploration (DSE) experiment, which searches across 480M designs to identify 2.5M valid designs at an average rate of 0.17M designs per second, including Pareto-optimal throughput- and energy-optimized design points.