On the use of inexact, pruned hardware in atmospheric modelling
Inexact hardware design, which advocates trading the accuracy of computations in exchange for significant savings in area, power and/or performance of computing hardware, has received increasing prominence in several error-tolerant application domains, particularly those involving perceptual or statistical end-users. In this paper, we evaluate inexact hardware for its applicability in weather and climate modelling. We expand previous studies on inexact techniques, in particular probabilistic pruning, to floating point arithmetic units and derive several simulated setups of pruned hardware with reasonable levels of error for applications in atmospheric modelling. The setup is tested on the Lorenz ‘96 model, a toy model for atmospheric dynamics, using software emulation for the proposed hardware. The results show that large parts of the computation tolerate the use of pruned hardware blocks without major changes in the quality of short- and long-time diagnostics, such as forecast errors and probability density functions. This could open the door to significant savings in computational cost and to higher resolution simulations with weather and climate models.