Automated Exploration and Implementation of Distributed CNN Inference at the Edge


For model inference of Convolutional Neural Net- works (CNNs), we nowadays witness a shift from the Cloud to the Edge. Unfortunately, deploying and inferring large, compute- and memory-intensive CNNs on Internet-of-Things devices at the Edge is challenging as they typically have limited resources. One approach to address this challenge is to leverage all available resources across multiple edge devices to execute a large CNN by properly partitioning it and running each CNN partition on a separate edge device. However, there currently does not exist a design and programming framework that takes a trained CNN model as input and subsequently allows for efficiently exploring and automatically implementing a range of different CNN partitions on multiple edge devices to facilitate distributed CNN inference. Therefore, in this paper, we propose a novel framework that automates the splitting of a CNN model into a set of sub-models as well as the code generation needed for the distributed and collaborative execution of these sub-models on multiple, possibly heterogeneous, edge devices, while supporting the exploitation of parallelism among and within the edge devices. In addition, since the number of different CNN mapping possibilities on multiple edge devices is vast, our framework also features a multi- stage and hierarchical Design Space Exploration methodology to efficiently search for (near-)optimal distributed CNN inference implementations. Our experimental results demonstrate that our work allows for rapidly finding and realizing distributed CNN inference implementations with reduced energy consumption and memory usage per edge device, and under certain conditions, with improved system throughput as well.

In IEEE Internet of Things Journal, Vol. 10 (Nr. 7), 2023