Harnessing the Power of FPGAs for Energy-Efficient AI: A Deep Dive into HLSTransform and Llama 2 Inference

Christian Baghai
3 min readJun 12, 2024


Photo by Martin Martz on Unsplash

In the rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), energy efficiency has become a paramount concern. As AI models grow in complexity and size, their energy consumption skyrockets, posing significant environmental and economic challenges. Enter the innovative solutions of HLSTransform and Llama 2 Inference on FPGAs — two methods that promise to revolutionize the way we approach energy-efficient AI.

HLSTransform: A Leap Forward in FPGA Utilization

HLSTransform represents a significant advancement in the use of Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) for AI applications. By leveraging high-level synthesis (HLS), developers can now write algorithms in higher-level programming languages, which are then compiled down to the hardware description language level for FPGAs. This method has been shown to achieve up to a 12.75x reduction in energy used per token on the Xilinx Virtex UltraScale+ VU9P FPGA compared to an Intel Xeon Broadwell E5–2686 v4 CPU and an 8.25x reduction compared to an NVIDIA RTX 3090 GPU.

But the benefits don’t stop at energy savings. HLSTransform also increases inference speeds by up to 2.46x compared to the CPU while maintaining 0.53x the speed of the RTX 3090 GPU. This is particularly impressive considering the GPU’s 4 times higher base clock rate. The open-source nature of HLSTransform democratizes the use of FPGAs in transformer inference, potentially inspiring more research and development in energy-efficient inference methods.

Llama 2 Inference: Simplifying FPGA Design

Llama 2 Inference takes a different approach to FPGA design. It simplifies the process by allowing for rapid prototyping without the need to write code at the register-transfer level (RTL), which is typically more complex and time-consuming. Llama 2, an open-source, state-of-the-art Large Language Model (LLM), has been developed to work with FPGAs using HLS.

The use of FPGAs for AI model training and inference is highly beneficial due to their low power consumption and high efficiency for specific tasks. This makes Llama 2 an attractive option for energy-efficient AI, aligning with the goal of implementing AI in sustainable practices and improving energy efficiency in AI applications.

The Sustainable Future of AI

By integrating these FPGA-based solutions, organizations can potentially reduce the carbon footprint of their AI systems, making them more sustainable and environmentally friendly. The key to sustainable AI lies not just in reducing energy consumption but also in ensuring that AI systems are designed and used in ways that support long-term ecological balance.

The journey towards energy-efficient AI is not without its challenges, but the innovations brought forth by HLSTransform and Llama 2 Inference on FPGAs offer a promising path forward. As we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible, these technologies stand as beacons of hope for a more sustainable and responsible AI future.

In conclusion, the pursuit of energy-efficient AI is more critical than ever. With the advent of HLSTransform and Llama 2 Inference, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in how AI systems are developed and deployed. These methods not only offer significant energy savings but also maintain competitive performance levels, making them a win-win for both the environment and the industry. As we embrace these innovations, we take a step closer to a world where AI can flourish without compromising our planet’s health.