Efficient Hybrid Network Architectures for Extremely Quantized Neural Networks Enabling Intelligence at the Edge

Indranil Chakraborty, Deboleena Roy, Aayush Ankit, Kaushik Roy

The recent advent of `Internet of Things' (IOT) has increased the demand for enabling AI-based edge computing. This has necessitated the search for efficient implementations of neural networks in terms of both computations and storage. Although extreme quantization has proven to be a powerful tool to achieve significant compression over full-precision networks, it can result in significant degradation in performance. In this work, we propose extremely quantized hybrid network architectures with both binary and full-precision sections to emulate the classification performance of full-precision networks while ensuring significant energy efficiency and memory compression. We explore several hybrid network architectures and analyze the performance of the networks in terms of accuracy, energy efficiency and memory compression. We perform our analysis on ResNet and VGG network architectures. Among the proposed network architectures, we show that the hybrid networks with full-precision residual connections emerge as the optimum by attaining accuracies close to full-precision networks while achieving excellent memory compression, up to 21.8x in case of VGG-19. This work demonstrates an effective way of hybridizing networks which achieve performance close to full-precision networks while attaining significant compression, furthering the feasibility of using such networks for energy-efficient neural computing in IOT-based edge devices.

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