Restructuring Batch Normalization to Accelerate CNN Training

Wonkyung Jung, Daejin Jung, Byeongho Kim, Sunjung Lee, Wonjong Rhee, Jung Ho Ahn

SysML 2019



Deep learning has become one of the most successful machine learning methods, and Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have become the de-facto standard for image classification and recognition. Because CNN models are compute-intensive, where billions of operations can be required just for an inference over a single input image, a variety of CNN accelerators have been proposed and developed. For the early CNN models, the research mostly focused on convolutional and fully-connected layers because the two layers consumed most of the computation cycles. For more recent CNN models, however, non-convolutional layers have become comparably important because of the popular use of newly designed non-convolutional layers and because of the reduction in the number and size of convolutional filters. Non-convolutional layers, including batch normalization (BN), typically have relatively lower computational intensity compared to the convolutional or fully-connected layers, and hence they are often constrained by main-memory bandwidth. In this paper, we focus on the acceleration of the BN layers among the non-convolutional layers, because BN has become a core design block of modern CNNs. A typical modern CNN has a large number of BN layers in its lean and deep architecture. BN requires mean and variance calculations over each mini-batch during training.

Therefore, the existing memory access reduction techniques, such as fusing multiple CONV layers, are not effective for accelerating BN due to their inability to optimize mini-batch related calculations. To address this increasingly important problem, we propose to restructure BN layers by first splitting it into two sub-layers (fission) and then combining the first sub-layer with its preceding convolutional layer and the second sub-layer with the following activation and convolutional layers (fusion). The proposed solution can significantly reduce main-memory accesses while training the latest CNN models, and the experiments on a chip multiprocessor with our modified Caffe implementation show that the proposed BN restructuring can improve the performance of DenseNet with 121 convolutional layers by 28.4%.



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