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EcoFormer: Energy-Saving Attention with Linear Complexity
Jing Liu · Zizheng Pan · Haoyu He · Jianfei Cai · Bohan Zhuang

Thu Dec 08 05:00 PM -- 07:00 PM (PST) @

Transformer is a transformative framework for deep learning which models sequential data and has achieved remarkable performance on a wide range of tasks, but with high computational and energy cost. To improve its efficiency, a popular choice is to compress the models via binarization which constrains the floating-point values into binary ones to save resource consumption owing to cheap bitwise operations significantly. However, existing binarization methods only aim at minimizing the information loss for the input distribution statistically, while ignoring the pairwise similarity modeling at the core of the attention mechanism. To this end, we propose a new binarization paradigm customized to high-dimensional softmax attention via kernelized hashing, called EcoFormer, to map the original queries and keys into low-dimensional binary codes in Hamming space. The kernelized hash functions are learned to match the ground-truth similarity relations extracted from the attention map in a self-supervised way. Based on the equivalence between the inner product of binary codes and the Hamming distance as well as the associative property of matrix multiplication, we can approximate the attention in linear complexity by expressing it as a dot-product of binary codes. Moreover, the compact binary representations of queries and keys in EcoFormer enable us to replace most of the expensive multiply-accumulate operations in attention with simple accumulations to save considerable on-chip energy footprint on edge devices. Extensive experiments on both vision and language tasks show that EcoFormer consistently achieves comparable performance with standard attentions while consuming much fewer resources. For example, based on PVTv2-B0 and ImageNet-1K, EcoFormer achieves a 73% reduction in on-chip energy footprint with only a slight performance drop of 0.33% compared to the standard attention. Code is available at https://github.com/ziplab/EcoFormer.

Author Information

Jing Liu (Monash University)
Zizheng Pan (Monash University)
Haoyu He (Monash University)
Jianfei Cai (Monash University)
Bohan Zhuang (Monash University)
Bohan Zhuang

Dr. Bohan Zhuang is a tenure-track assistant professor at the Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University, Australia. Previously, he was a Senior Research Fellow and finished his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Adelaide, where he was advised by Prof. Ian Reid and Prof. Chunhua Shen. During his undergraduate study, he was fortunately supervised by Prof. Huchuan Lu. His main research topic is efficient deep learning computing. He has also been contributing to a wide span of applications in Machine Learning and Computer Vision. Apart from academic, he is a music enthusiast and have been playing piano since 4 years old.

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