SpikeGPT: Generative Pre-trained Language Model with Spiking Neural Networks

Published: 20 Jun 2024, Last Modified: 20 Jun 2024Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeXCC BY-SA 4.0
Abstract: As the size of large language models continue to scale, so does the computational resources required to run them. Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) have emerged as an energy-efficient approach to deep learning that leverage sparse and event-driven activations to reduce the computational overhead associated with model inference. While they have become competitive with non-spiking models on many computer vision tasks, SNNs have proven to be more challenging to train. As a result, their performance lags behind modern deep learning, and until now, SNNs have yet to succeed at language generation on large-scale datasets. In this paper, inspired by the Receptance Weighted Key Value (RWKV) language model, we successfully implement `SpikeGPT', a generative language model with binary, event-driven spiking activation units. We train the proposed model on two model variants: 46M and 216M parameters. To the best of our knowledge, SpikeGPT is the largest backpropagation-trained SNN model when released, rendering it suitable for both the generation and comprehension of natural language. We achieve this by modifying the transformer block to replace multi-head self-attention to reduce quadratic computational complexity $\mathcal{O}(T^2)$ to linear complexity $\mathcal{O}(T)$ with increasing sequence length. Input tokens are instead streamed in sequentially to our attention mechanism (as with typical SNNs). Our experiments show that SpikeGPT remains competitive with non-spiking models on tested benchmarks, while maintaining 32.2$\times$ fewer operations when processed on neuromorphic hardware that can leverage sparse, event-driven activations. Our code implementation is available at https://github.com/ridgerchu/SpikeGPT.
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Code: https://github.com/ridgerchu/SpikeGPT
Assigned Action Editor: ~Emanuele_Sansone1
Submission Number: 2554