AccSS3D: Accelerator for Spatially Sparse 3D DNNs

Om Ji Omer, Prashant Laddha, Gurpreet S Kalsi, Anirud Thyagharajan, Kamlesh R Pillai, Abhimanyu Kulkarni, Anbang Yao, Yurong Chen, Sreenivas Subramoney

Semantic understanding and completion of real world scenes is a foundational primitive of 3D Visual perception widely used in high-level applications such as robotics, medical imaging, autonomous driving and navigation. Due to the curse of dimensionality, compute and memory requirements for 3D scene understanding grow in cubic complexity with voxel resolution, posing a huge impediment to realizing real-time energy efficient deployments. The inherent spatial sparsity present in the 3D world due to free space is fundamentally different from the channel-wise sparsity that has been extensively studied. We present ACCELERATOR FOR SPATIALLY SPARSE 3D DNNs (AccSS3D), the first end-to-end solution for accelerating 3D scene understanding by exploiting the ample spatial sparsity. As an algorithm-dataflow-architecture co-designed system specialized for spatially-sparse 3D scene understanding, AccSS3D includes novel spatial locality-aware metadata structures, a near-zero latency and spatial sparsity-aware dataflow optimizer, a surface orientation aware pointcloud reordering algorithm and a codesigned hardware accelerator for spatial sparsity that exploits data reuse through systolic and multicast interconnects. The SSpNNA accelerator core together with the 64 KB of L1 memory requires 0.92 mm2 of area in 16nm process at 1 GHz. Overall, AccSS3D achieves 16.8x speedup and a 2232x energy efficiency improvement for 3D sparse convolution compared to an Intel-i7-8700K 4-core CPU, which translates to a 11.8x end-to-end 3D semantic segmentation speedup and a 24.8x energy efficiency improvement (iso technology node)

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