Energy efficiency is a critical design objective in deep learning hardware, particularly for real-time machine learning applications where the processing takes place on resource-constrained platforms. The inherent resilience of these applications to error makes voltage scaling an attractive method to enhance efficiency. Timing error probability models are proposed in this article to better understand the effects of voltage scaling on error rates and power consumption of multiply-accumulate units. The accuracy of the proposed models is demonstrated via Monte Carlo simulations. These models are then used to quantify the related tradeoffs without relying on time-consuming hardware-level simulations. Both modern FinFET and emerging tunneling field-effect transistor (TFET) technologies are considered to explore the dependence of the effects of voltage scaling on these two technologies.
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Error Probability Models for Voltage-Scaled Multiply-Accumulate Units