AbstractThe growing numbers of application areas for artificial intelligence (AI) methods have led to an explosion of domain-specific accelerators that could support every new machine learning (ML) algorithm advancement, clearly highlighting the need for a capability to quickly and automatically transition from algorithm definition to hardware implementation and explore design space along a variety of SWaP (size, weight and Power). The software defined architectures (SODA) synthesizer implements a compiler-based modular infrastructure for the end-to-end generation of machine learning accelerators from high-level frameworks to hardware description language. At the same time, neuromorphic computing, by mimicking how the brain operates, promises to perform artificial intelligence tasks at efficiencies orders of magnitude higher than the current conventional tensor-processing based accelerators, as demonstrated by a variety of specialized designs leveraging Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs). Nevertheless, the mapping of an artificial neural network (ANN) to solutions supporting SNNs is still a non-trivial and very device-specific task, and completely lack the possibility to design hybrid systems that integrate conventional and spiking neural models. In this paper we discuss the support for such an integrated generation leveraging the SODA Synthesizer framework and its modular structure. In particular, we present a new MLIR dialect (part of the SODA frontend) that allows expressing spiking neural network features (e.g., available resources, spiking sequences, analog signal reading, etc.) and illustrate how it enables mapping to Spiking Neurons and deployment to the related specialized hardware (which, in the digital domain, could be generated through the other existing layers of the SODA Synthesizer). We then discuss the opportunities for even deeper integration afforded by the hardware compilation infrastructure, providing a path towards the generation of complex heterogeneous artificial intelligence systems.
Published: February 19, 2022