A 5 \mu W Standard Cell Memory-based Configurable Hyperdimensional Computing Accelerator for Always-on Smart Sensing

Manuel Eggimann, Abbas Rahimi, Luca Benini

Hyperdimensional computing (HDC) is a brain-inspired computing paradigm based on high-dimensional holistic representations of vectors. It recently gained attention for embedded smart sensing due to its inherent error-resiliency and suitability to highly parallel hardware implementations. In this work, we propose a programmable all-digital CMOS implementation of a fully autonomous HDC accelerator for always-on classification in energy-constrained sensor nodes. By using energy-efficient standard cell memory (SCM), the design is easily cross-technology mappable. It achieves extremely low power, 5 $\mu W$ in typical applications, and an energy-efficiency improvement over the state-of-the-art (SoA) digital architectures of up to 3$\times$ in post-layout simulations for always-on wearable tasks such as EMG gesture recognition. As part of the accelerator's architecture, we introduce novel hardware-friendly embodiments of common HDC-algorithmic primitives, which results in 3.3$\times$ technology scaled area reduction over the SoA, achieving the same accuracy levels in all examined targets. The proposed architecture also has a fully configurable datapath using microcode optimized for HDC stored on an integrated SCM based configuration memory, making the design "general-purpose" in terms of HDC algorithm flexibility. This flexibility allows usage of the accelerator across novel HDC tasks, for instance, a newly designed HDC applied to the task of ball bearing fault detection.

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