A High Memory Bandwidth FPGA Accelerator for Sparse Matrix-Vector Multiplication

Jeremy Fowers, Kalin Ovtcharov, Karin Strauss, Eric S. Chung, Greg Stitt
Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
IEEE International Symposium on Field-Programmable Custom Computing Machines, 2014


   title={A High Memory Bandwidth FPGA Accelerator for Sparse Matrix-Vector Multiplication},

   author={Fowers, Jeremy and Ovtcharov, Kalin and Strauss, Karin and Chung, Eric S and Stitt, Greg},



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Sparse matrix-vector multiplication (SMVM) is a crucial primitive used in a variety of scientific and commercial applications. Despite having significant parallelism, SMVM is a challenging kernel to optimize due to its irregular memory access characteristics. Numerous studies have proposed the use of FPGAs to accelerate SMVM implementations. However, most prior approaches focus on parallelizing multiply-accumulate operations within a single row of the matrix (which limits parallelism if rows are small) and/or make inefficient uses of the memory system when fetching matrix and vector elements. In this paper, we introduce an FPGA-optimized SMVM architecture and a novel sparse matrix encoding that explicitly exposes parallelism across rows, while keeping the hardware complexity and on-chip memory usage low. This system compares favorably with prior FPGA SMVM implementations. For the over 700 University of Florida sparse matrices we evaluated, it also performs within about two thirds of CPU SMVM performance on average, even though it has 2.4x lower DRAM memory bandwidth, and within almost one third of GPU SVMV performance on average, even at 9x lower memory bandwidth. Additionally, it consumes only 25W, for power efficiencies 2.6x and 2.3x higher than CPU and GPU, respectively, based on maximum device power.
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