A Competitive Edge: Can FPGAs Beat GPUs at DCNN Inference Acceleration in Resource-Limited Edge Computing Applications?

Ian Colbert, Jake Daly, Ken Kreutz-Delgado, Srinjoy Das

When trained as generative models, Deep Learning algorithms have shown exceptional performance on tasks involving high dimensional data such as image denoising and super-resolution. In an increasingly connected world dominated by mobile and edge devices, there is surging demand for these algorithms to run locally on embedded platforms. FPGAs, by virtue of their reprogrammability and low-power characteristics, are ideal candidates for these edge computing applications. As such, we design a spatio-temporally parallelized hardware architecture capable of accelerating a deconvolution algorithm optimized for power-efficient inference on a resource-limited FPGA. We propose this FPGA-based accelerator to be used for Deconvolutional Neural Network (DCNN) inference in low-power edge computing applications. To this end, we develop methods that systematically exploit micro-architectural innovations, design space exploration, and statistical analysis. Using a Xilinx PYNQ-Z2 FPGA, we leverage our architecture to accelerate inference for two DCNNs trained on the MNIST and CelebA datasets using the Wasserstein GAN framework. On these networks, our FPGA design achieves a higher throughput to power ratio with lower run-to-run variation when compared to the NVIDIA Jetson TX1 edge computing GPU.

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