Approxhpvm: A portable compiler ir for accuracy-aware optimizations

Hashim Sharif, Prakalp Srivastava, Muhammad Huzaifa, Maria Kotsifakou, Keyur Joshi, Yasmin Sarita, Nathan Zhao, Vikram S. Adve, Sasa Misailovic, Sarita Adve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We propose ApproxHPVM, a compiler IR and system designed to enable accuracy-aware performance and energy tuning on heterogeneous systems with multiple compute units and approximation methods. ApproxHPVM automatically translates end-to-end application-level quality metrics into accuracy requirements for individual operations. ApproxHPVM uses a hardware-agnostic accuracy-tuning phase to do this translation that provides greater portability across heterogeneous hardware platforms and enables future capabilities like accuracy-aware dynamic scheduling and design space exploration. ApproxHPVM incorporates three main components: (a) a compiler IR with hardware-agnostic approximation metrics, (b) a hardware-agnostic accuracy-tuning phase to identify error-tolerant computations, and (c) an accuracy-aware hardware scheduler that maps error-tolerant computations to approximate hardware components. As ApproxHPVM does not incorporate any hardware-specific knowledge as part of the IR, it can serve as a portable virtual ISA that can be shipped to all kinds of hardware platforms. We evaluate our framework on nine benchmarks from the deep learning domain and five image processing benchmarks. Our results show that our framework can offload chunks of approximable computations to special-purpose accelerators that provide significant gains in performance and energy, while staying within user-specified application-level quality metrics with high probability. Across the 14 benchmarks, we observe from 1-9x performance speedups and 1.1-11.3x energy reduction for very small reductions in accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA186
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages
Issue numberOOPSLA
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Approximate Computing
  • Compiler
  • Deep Neural Networks
  • Heterogeneous Systems
  • Virtual ISA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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