Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have been gaining popularity in recent years, and researchers have designed specialized architectures to speed up the inference process. However, despite the promising potential of processing near-/in-sensor architectures actively explored in the visual Internet of Things, there is still a need to develop a behavior-level simulator to model performance and facilitate early design exploration. This paper proposes a stand-alone simulation platform for processing-in-pixel (PiP) systems, namely PiPSim. It offers a flexible interface and a wide range of design options for customizing the efficiency and accuracy of PiP-based accelerators using a hierarchical structure. Its organization spans from the device level, e.g., memory technology, upwards to the circuit level, e.g., compute-add on architecture, and then to the algorithm level, e.g., DNN workloads. PiPSim realizes instruction-accurate evaluation of circuit-level performance metrics as well as learning accuracy at run-time. Compared to SPICE simulation, PiPSim achieves over 25,000× speed-up with less than a 2.5% error rate on average. Furthermore, PiPSim can optimize the design and estimate the tradeoff relationships among different performance metrics.
Arman Roohi, Sepehr Tabrizchi, Mehrdad Morsali, David Z. Pan, Shaahin Angizi