A Configurable BNN ASIC using a Network of Programmable Threshold Logic Standard Cells

Ankit Wagle, Sunil Khatri, Sarma Vrudhula

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


This paper presents Tulip, a new architecture for a binary neural network (BNN) that uses an optimal schedule for executing the operations of an arbitrary BNN. It was constructed with the goal of maximizing energy efficiency per classification. At the top-level, Tulip consists of a collection of unique processing elements (TULIP-PEs) that are organized in a SIMD fashion. Each Tulip- Peconsists of a small network of binary neurons, and a small amount of local memory per neuron. The unique aspect of the binary neuron is that it is implemented as a mixed-signal circuit that natively performs the inner-product and thresholding operation of an artificial binary neuron. Moreover, the binary neuron, which is implemented as a single CMOS standard cell, is reconfigurable, and with a change in a single parameter, can implement all standard operations involved in a BNN. We present novel algorithms for mapping arbitrary nodes of a BNN onto the TULIP-PEs. Tulip was implemented as an ASIC in TSMC 40nm-LP technology. To provide a fair comparison, a recently reported BNN that employs a conventional MAC-based arithmetic processor was also implemented in the same technology. The results show that Tulip is consistently 3X more energy-efficient than the conventional design, without any penalty in performance, area, or accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2020 IEEE 38th International Conference on Computer Design, ICCD 2020
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781728197104
StatePublished - Oct 2020
Event38th IEEE International Conference on Computer Design, ICCD 2020 - Hartford, United States
Duration: Oct 18 2020Oct 21 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Computer Design: VLSI in Computers and Processors
ISSN (Print)1063-6404


Conference38th IEEE International Conference on Computer Design, ICCD 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • BNN
  • Threshold logic
  • area-efficient
  • energy-efficient
  • high-throughput
  • highperformance
  • reconfigurable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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