Specialized Accelerators and Compiler Flows: Replacing Accelerator APIs with a Formal Software/Hardware Interface


Bo-Yuan Huang, Steven Lyubomirsky, Yi Li, Mike He, Thierry Tambe, Gus Henry Smith, Akash Gaonkar, Vishal Canumalla, Gu-Yeon Wei, Aarti Gupta, Zachary Tatlock, and Sharad Malik. 3/1/2022. “Specialized Accelerators and Compiler Flows: Replacing Accelerator APIs with a Formal Software/Hardware Interface”. Publisher's Version


Specialized accelerators are increasingly used to meet the power-performance goals of emerging applications such as machine learning, image processing, and graph analysis. Existing accelerator programming methodologies using APIs have several limitations: (1) The application code lacks portability to other platforms and compiler frameworks; (2) the lack of integration of accelerator code in the compiler limits useful optimizations such as instruction selection and operator fusion; and (3) the opacity of the accelerator function semantics limits the ability to check the final code for correctness. The root of these limitations is the lack of a formal software/hardware interface specification for accelerators.
In this paper, we use the recently developed Instruction-Level Abstraction (ILA) for accelerators to serve this purpose, similar to how the Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) has been used as the software/hardware interface for processors. We propose a compiler flow termed D2A using the ILA and present a prototype that demonstrates this flow for deep learning (DL) applications. This prototype compiles programs from high-level domain-specific languages, e.g., PyTorch and MxNet, to multiple target accelerators with no target-specific extensions to the application or compiler - thus demonstrating application portability. It includes compiler optimizations through instruction selection using equality saturation-based flexible matching. Finally, we show checking the correctness of the resulting code through formal verification of individual matched operations and fully automated simulation-based validation of complete applications. The evaluation of the prototype compiler is based on six different DL applications and three different accelerators. Overall, this methodology lays the foundation for integrating accelerators in compiler flows using a formal software/hardware interface.