BP-Im2col: Implicit Im2col Supporting AI Backpropagation on Systolic Arrays

Jianchao Yang, Mei Wen, Junzhong Shen, Yasong Cao, Minjin Tang, Renyu Yang, Jiawei Fei, Chunyuan Zhang

State-of-the-art systolic array-based accelerators adopt the traditional im2col algorithm to accelerate the inference of convolutional layers. However, traditional im2col cannot efficiently support AI backpropagation. Backpropagation in convolutional layers involves performing transposed convolution and dilated convolution, which usually introduces plenty of zero-spaces into the feature map or kernel. The zero-space data reorganization interfere with the continuity of training and incur additional and non-negligible overhead in terms of off- and on-chip storage, access and performance. Since countermeasures for backpropagation are rarely proposed, we propose BP-im2col, a novel im2col algorithm for AI backpropagation, and implement it in RTL on a TPU-like accelerator. Experiments on TPU-like accelerator indicate that BP-im2col reduces the backpropagation runtime by 34.9% on average, and reduces the bandwidth of off-chip memory and on-chip buffers by at least 22.7% and 70.6% respectively, over a baseline accelerator adopting the traditional im2col. It further reduces the additional storage overhead in the backpropagation process by at least 74.78%.

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