GreenTPU: Predictive Design Paradigm for Improving Timing Error Resilience of a Near-Threshold Tensor Processing Unit
The emergence of hardware accelerators has brought about several orders of magnitude improvement in the speed of the deep neural-network (DNN) inference. Among such DNN accelerators, the Google tensor processing unit (TPU) has transpired to be the best-in-class, offering more than 15× speedup over the contemporary GPUs. However, the rapid growth in several DNN workloads conspires to escalate the energy consumptions of the TPU-based data-centers. In order to restrict the energy consumption of TPUs, we propose GreenTPU-a low-power near-threshold (NTC) TPU design paradigm. To ensure a high inference accuracy at a low-voltage operation, GreenTPU identifies the patterns in the error-causing activation sequences in the systolic array, and prevents further timing errors from similar patterns by intermittently boosting the operating voltage of the specific multiplier-and-accumulator units in the TPU. Compared to a cutting-edge timing error mitigation technique for TPUs, GreenTPU enables 2× to 3× higher performance (TOPS) in an NTC TPU, with a minimal loss in the prediction accuracy.