Fault-tolerant Systolic Array Based Accelerators for Deep Neural Network Execution

Jeff Jun Zhang, Kanad Basu, Siddharth Garg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Due to their growing popularity and computational cost, deep neural networks (DNNs) are being targeted for hardware acceleration. A popular architecture for DNN acceleration, adopted by the Google Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), utilizes a systolic array based matrix multiplication unit at its core. This paper deals with the design of faulttolerant, systolic array based DNN accelerators for high defect rate technologies. To this end, we empirically show that the classification accuracy of a baseline TPU drops significantly even at extremely low fault rates (as low as 0:006%). We then propose two novel strategies, faultaware pruning (FAP*) and fault-aware pruning+retraining (FAP*+T), that enable the TPU to operate at fault rates of up to 50%, with negligible drop in classification accuracy (as low as 0:1%) and no run-time performance overhead. The FAP*+T does introduce a one-time retraining penalty per TPU chip before it is deployed, but we propose optimizations that reduce this one-time penalty to under 3 minutes. The penalty is then amortized over the entire lifetime of the TPU’s operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIEEE Design and Test
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Clocks
  • Computer architecture
  • Deep Neural Networks
  • Fault Toerance
  • Fault tolerance
  • Fault tolerant systems
  • Google
  • Neural networks
  • Reliability
  • Systolic Arrays
  • Testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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