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M³ViT: Mixture-of-Experts Vision Transformer for Efficient Multi-task Learning with Model-Accelerator Co-design

hanxue liang · Zhiwen Fan · Rishov Sarkar · Ziyu Jiang · Tianlong Chen · Kai Zou · Yu Cheng · Cong Hao · Zhangyang Wang

Hall J (level 1) #631

Keywords: [ mixture of experts ] [ Vision transformer ] [ Multi-task Learning ] [ hardware co-design ]


Multi-task learning (MTL) encapsulates multiple learned tasks in a single model and often lets those tasks learn better jointly. Multi-tasking models have become successful and often essential for many sophisticated systems such as autonomous driving and indoor robots. However, when deploying MTL onto those real-world systems that are often resource-constrained or latency-sensitive, two prominent challenges arise: (i) during training, simultaneously optimizing all tasks is often difficult due to gradient conflicts across tasks, and the challenge is amplified when a growing number of tasks have to be squeezed into one compact model; (ii) at inference, current MTL regimes have to activate nearly the entire model even to just execute a single task. Yet most real systems demand only one or two tasks at each moment, while flexibly switching between tasks per need: therefore such “all tasks activated” inference is also highly inefficient and non-scalable in practice. In this paper, we present a model-accelerator co-design framework to enable efficient on-device MTL, that tackles both training and inference bottlenecks. Our framework, dubbed M³ViT, customizes mixture-of-experts (MoE) layers into a vision transformer (ViT) backbone for MTL, and sparsely activates task-specific experts during training, which effectively disentangles the parameter spaces to avoid different tasks’ training conflicts. Then at inference with any task of interest, the same design allows for activating only the task-corresponding sparse “expert” pathway, instead of the full model. Our new model design is further enhanced by hardware-level innovations, in particular, a novel computation reordering scheme tailored for memory-constrained MTL that achieves zero-overhead switching between tasks and can scale to any number of experts. Extensive experiments on PASCAL-Context and NYUD-v2 datasets at both software and hardware levels are conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed design. When executing the practical scenario of single-task inference, M³ViT achieves higher accuracies than encoder-focused MTL methods, while significantly reducing 88% inference FLOPs. When implemented on a hardware platform of one Xilinx ZCU104 FPGA, our co-design framework reduces the memory requirement by 2.40×, while achieving energy efficiency (as the product of latency and power) up to 9.23× times higher than a comparable FPGA baseline.

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