PDL Abstract

Intelligence Beyond the Edge: Inference on Intermittent Embedded Systems

Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS’19).

Graham Gobieski, Brandon Lucia, Nathan Beckmann

Carnegie Mellon University

Energy-harvesting technology provides a promising platform for future IoT applications. However, since communication is very expensive in these devices, applications will require inference “beyond the edge” to avoid wasting precious energy on pointless communication. We show that application performance is highly sensitive to inference accuracy. Unfortunately, accurate inference requires large amounts of computation and memory, and energy-harvesting systems are severely resource-constrained. Moreover, energy-harvesting systems operate intermittently, suffering frequent power failures that corrupt results and impede forward progress.

This paper overcomes these challenges to present the first full-scale demonstration of DNN inference on an energyharvesting system. We design and implement SONIC, an intermittence-aware software system with specialized support for DNN inference. SONIC introduces loop continuation, a new technique that dramatically reduces the cost of guaranteeing correct intermittent execution for loop-heavy code like DNN inference. To build a complete system, we further present GENESIS, a tool that automatically compresses networks to optimally balance inference accuracy and energy, and TAILS, which exploits SIMD hardware available in some microcontrollers to improve energy efficiency. Both SONIC & TAILS guarantee correct intermittent execution without any hand-tuning or performance loss across different power systems. Across three neural networks on a commercially available microcontroller, SONIC & TAILS reduce inference energy by 6.9× and 12.2×, respectively, over the state-of-the-art.