FAQ: Mitigating the Impact of Faults in the Weight Memory of DNN Accelerators through Fault-Aware Quantization

Muhammad Abdullah Hanif, Muhammad Shafique

Permanent faults induced due to imperfections in the manufacturing process of Deep Neural Network (DNN) accelerators are a major concern, as they negatively impact the manufacturing yield of the chip fabrication process. Fault-aware training is the state-of-the-art approach for mitigating such faults. However, it incurs huge retraining overheads, specifically when used for large DNNs trained on complex datasets. To address this issue, we propose a novel Fault-Aware Quantization (FAQ) technique for mitigating the effects of stuck-at permanent faults in the on-chip weight memory of DNN accelerators at a negligible overhead cost compared to fault-aware retraining while offering comparable accuracy results. We propose a lookup table-based algorithm to achieve ultra-low model conversion time. We present extensive evaluation of the proposed approach using five different DNNs, i.e., ResNet-18, VGG11, VGG16, AlexNet and MobileNetV2, and three different datasets, i.e., CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100 and ImageNet. The results demonstrate that FAQ helps in maintaining the baseline accuracy of the DNNs at low and moderate fault rates without involving costly fault-aware training. For example, for ResNet-18 trained on the CIFAR-10 dataset, at 0.04 fault rate FAQ offers (on average) an increase of 76.38% in accuracy. Similarly, for VGG11 trained on the CIFAR-10 dataset, at 0.04 fault rate FAQ offers (on average) an increase of 70.47% in accuracy. The results also show that FAQ incurs negligible overheads, i.e., less than 5% of the time required to run 1 epoch of retraining. We additionally demonstrate the efficacy of our technique when used in conjunction with fault-aware retraining and show that the use of FAQ inside fault-aware retraining enables fast accuracy recovery.

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