SCORCH: Neural Architecture Search and Hardware Accelerator Co-design with Reinforcement Learning

Siqin Liu and Avinash Karanth
Ohio University


The ability to automatically generate a neural network architecture and the corresponding hardware implementation to optimize both accuracy and performance characteristics (latency, power) simultaneously for edge-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications is becoming prevalent. As both neural architecture search (NAS) and hardware implementation have ample design space, it is very challenging to integrate with resource-constrained edge computing hardware since the current co-search frameworks take several hundreds of GPU hours to converge. In this paper, we propose SCORCH, a novel neural architecture search and hardware accelerator co-design framework with reinforcement learning to maximize accuracy, and increase energy efficiency and throughput while converging faster. By predicting hyperparameters of neural networks together with hardware resources, we use a reinforcement-based multi-phased controller to explore neural architecture to achieve higher accuracy and hardware performance simultaneously by applying customized dataflows, voltage/frequency scaling, and tunable Network-on-Chip (NoC) hardware parameters. Our simulation results on the CIFAR-10/100 and ImageNet datasets show that SCORCH achieves identical neural network accuracy while achieving 2.6% higher accuracy, and 35.6%, 26.2%, and 65.8% reductions in latency, energy, and area compared with state-of-art co-search frameworks such as DANCE, NANDS, and NASAIC.