Publications / SAND Report

Modeling Analog Tile-Based Accelerators Using SST

Feinberg, Benjamin F.; Agarwal, Sapan A.; Plagge, Mark P.; Rothganger, Fredrick R.; Cardwell, Suma G.; Hughes, Clayton H.

Analog computing has been widely proposed to improve the energy efficiency of multiple important workloads including neural network operations, and other linear algebra kernels. To properly evaluate analog computing and explore more complex workloads such as systems consisting of multiple analog data paths, system level simulations are required. Moreover, prior work on system architectures for analog computing often rely on custom simulators creating signficant additional design effort and complicating comparisons between different systems. To remedy these issues, this report describes the design and implementation of a flexible tile-based analog accelerator element for the Structural Simulation Toolkit (SST). The element focuses on heavily on the tile controller—an often neglected aspect of prior work—that is sufficiently versatile to simulate a wide range of different tile operations including neural network layers, signal processing kernels, and generic linear algebra operations without major constraints. The tile model also interoperates with existing SST memory and network models to reduce the overall development load and enable future simulation of heterogeneous systems with both conventional digital logic and analog compute tiles. Finally, both the tile and array models are designed to easily support future extensions as new analog operations and applications that can benefit from analog computing are developed.