Event-based Classification with Recurrent Spiking Neural Networks on Low-end Micro-Controller Units

Chiara Boretti, Luciano Prono, Charlotte Frenkel, Giacomo Indiveri, Fabio Pareschi, Mauro Mangia, Riccardo Rovatti, Gianluca Setti

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


Due to its intrinsic sparsity both in time and space, event-based data is optimally suited for edge-computing applications that require low power and low latency. Time varying signals encoded with this data representation are best processed with Spiking Neural Networks (SNN). In particular, recurrent SNNs (RSNNs) can solve temporal tasks using a relatively low number of parameters, and therefore support their hardware implementation in resource-constrained computing architectures. These premises propel the need of exploring the properties of these kinds of structures on low-power processing systems to test their limits both in terms of computational accuracy and resource consumption, without having to resort to full-custom implementations. In this work, we implemented an RSNN model on a low-end, resource-constrained ARM-Cortex-M4-based Micro Controller Unit (MCU). We trained it on a down-sampled version of the N-MNIST event-based dataset for digit recognition as an example to assess its performance in the inference phase. With an accuracy of 97.2%, the implementation has an average energy consumption as low as 4.1μJ and a worst-case computational time of 150.4μs per time-step with an operating frequency of 180 MHz, so the deployment of RSNNs on MCU devices is a feasible option for small image vision real-time tasks.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2023 IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS)
ISBN (Print)9781665451093
StatePublished - May 21 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-08-21
Acknowledgements: This study was carried out within the FAIR - Future Artificial Intelligence Research and received funding from the European Union Next-GenerationEU (PIANO NAZIONALE DI RIPRESA E RESILIENZA (PNRR) – MIS-SIONE 4 COMPONENTE 2, INVESTIMENTO 1.3 – D.D. 1555 11/10/2022, PE00000013).


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