Overview

Nonquantized DLC files use 32 bit floating point representations of network parameters.

Quantized DLC files use 8 bit fixed point representations of network parameters. The fixed point representation is the same used in Tensorflow quantized models.
Caffe and Caffe2
The default output of snpecaffetodlc and snpecaffe2todlc is a nonquantized model. This means that all the network parameters are left in the 32 floating point representation as present in the original Caffe model. To quantize the model to 8 bit fixed point, see snpedlcquantize. Note that models that are intended to be quantized using snpedlcquantize must have their batch dimension set to 1. A different batch dimension can be used during inference, by resizing the network during initialization.
ONNX
The default output of snpeonnxtodlc is a nonquantized model. This means that all the network parameters are left in the 32 bit floating point representation as present in the original ONNX model. To quantize the model to 8 bit fixed point, see snpedlcquantize. Note that models that are intended to be quantized using snpedlcquantize must have their batch dimension set to 1. A different batch dimension can be used during inference, by resizing the network during initialization.
TensorFlow
The default output of snpetensorflowtodlc is a nonquantized model. This means that all the network parameters are left in the 32 bit floating point representation as present in the original TensorFlow model. To quantize the model to 8 bit fixed point, see snpedlcquantize. Note that models that are intended to be quantized using snpedlcquantize must have their batch dimension set to 1. A different batch dimension can be used during inference, by resizing the network during initialization.
The TensorFlow converter does not support conversion of TensorFlow graphs that have been quantized using TensorFlow tools.
Choosing Between a Quantized or NonQuantized Model
Summary
Runtime  Quantized DLC  NonQuantized DLC 
CPU or GPU  Compatible. The model is dequantized by the runtime, increasing network initialization time. Accuracy may be impacted.  Compatible. The model is native format for these runtimes. Model can be passed directly to the runtime. May be more accurate than a quantized model. 
DSP  Compatible. The model is native format for DSP runtime. Model can be passed directly to the runtime. Accuracy may be different than a nonquantized model  Compatible. The model is quantized by the runtime, increasing network initialization time. Accuracy may be different than a quantized model. 
AIP  Compatible. The model is in supported format for AIP runtime. Model can be passed directly to the runtime.  Incompatible. Nonquantized models are not supported by the AIP runtime. 
Details

GPU and CPU

The GPU and CPU always use floating point (nonquantized) network parameters.

Using quantized DLC files with GPU and CPU runtimes is supported. Network initialization time will dramatically increase as SNPE will automatically dequantize the network parameters in order to run on GPU and CPU.

If network initialization time is a concern, it is recommended to use nonquantized DLC files (default) for both GPU and CPU.

Quantization of the DLC file does introduce noise, as quantization is lossy.

The network performance during execute is not impacted by the choice of quantized vs nonquantized DLC files.

DSP

The DSP always uses quantized network parameters.

Using a nonquantized DLC file on the DSP is supported. Network initialization time will dramatically increase as SNPE will automatically quantize the network parameters in order to run on the DSP.

It is generally recommended to use quantized DLC files for running on the DSP. In addition to faster network initialization time, using quantized models also reduces peak memory usage during initialization, and decreases DLC file size.

AIP

The AIP runtime always uses quantized network parameters.

Passing through snpedlcquantize is mandatory for generating the binaries for HTA subnets.

Using a nonquantized DLC file with the AIP runtime is not supported.

HTA subnets use the quantized parameters in the DLC.

HNN (Hexagon NN) subnets use the quantization parameters in the same way DSP runtime does.

Balancing DLC file size, network initialization time and accuracy

If the network will mainly run on the GPU and CPU it is recommended to try both quantized and nonquantized models during development. If a quantized model provides enough accuracy, then it may be used at the expense of increased network initialization time. The benefit is a much smaller DLC file. The tradeoff between accuracy, network initialization time, and DLC file size is application specific.

If the network will mainly run on the DSP, there is no benefit to using a nonquantized model. As previously stated it will dramatically increase network initialization time and DLC file size, but provide no accuracy benefit.
Quantization Algorithm
This section describes the concepts behind the quantization algorithm used in SNPE. These concepts are used by snpedlcquantize and is also used by SNPE for input quantization when using the DSP runtime.
Overview
Note: SNPE supports multiple quantization modes. The basics of the quantization, regardless of mode, are described here. See Quantization Modes for more information.

Quantization converts floating point data to Tensorflowstyle 8bit fixed point format

The following requirements are satisfied:

Full range of input values is covered.

Minimum range of 0.01 is enforced.

Floating point zero is exactly representable.

Quantization algorithm inputs:

Set of floating point values to be quantized.

Quantization algorithm outputs:

Set of 8bit fixed point values.

Encoding parameters:

encodingmin  minimum floating point value representable (by fixed point value 0)

encodingmax  maximum floating point value representable (by fixed point value 255)

Algorithm

Compute the true range (min, max) of input data.

Compute the encodingmin and encodingmax.

Quantize the input floating point values.

Output:

fixed point values

encodingmin and encodingmax parameters
Details

Compute the true range of the input floating point data.

finds the smallest and largest values in the input data

represents the true range of the input data

Compute the encodingmin and encodingmax.

These parameters are used in the quantization step.

These parameters define the range and floating point values that will be representable by the fixed point format.

encodingmin: specifies the smallest floating point value that will be represented by the fixed point value of 0

encodingmax: specifies the largest floating point value that will be represented by the fixed point value of 255

floating point values at every step size, where step size = (encodingmax  encodingmin) / 255, will be representable

encodingmin and encodingmax are first set to the true min and true max computed in the previous step

First requirement: encoding range must be at least a minimum of 0.01

encodingmax is adjusted to max(true max, true min + 0.01)

Second requirement: floating point value of 0 must be exactly representable

encodingmin or encodingmax may be further adjusted

Handling 0.

Case 1: Inputs are strictly positive

the encodingmin is set to 0.0

zero floating point value is exactly representable by smallest fixed point value 0

e.g. input range = [5.0, 10.0]

encodingmin = 0.0, encodingmax = 10.0

Case 2: Inputs are strictly negative

encodingmax is set to 0.0

zero floating point value is exactly representable by the largest fixed point value 255

e.g. input range = [20.0, 6.0]

encodingmin = 20.0, encodingmax = 0.0

Case 3: Inputs are both negative and positive

encodingmin and encodingmax are slightly shifted to make the floating point zero exactly representable

e.g. input range = [5.1, 5.1]

encodingmin and encodingmax are first set to 5.1 and 5.1, respectively

encoding range is 10.2 and the step size is 10.2/255 = 0.04

zero value is currently not representable. The closest values representable are 0.02 and +0.02 by fixed point values 127 and 128, respectively

encodingmin and encodingmax are shifted by 0.02. The new encodingmin is 5.12 and the new encodingmax is 5.08

floating point zero is now exactly representable by the fixed point value of 128

Quantize the input floating point values.

encodingmin and encodingmax parameter determined in the previous step are used to quantize all the input floating values to their fixed point representation

Quantization formula is:

quantized value = round(255 * (floating point value  encoding.min) / (encoding.max  encoding.min))

quantized value is also clamped to be within 0 and 255

Outputs

the fixed point values

encodingmin and encodingmax parameters
Quantization Example

Inputs:

input values = [1.8, 1.0, 0, 0.5]

encodingmin is set to 1.8 and encodingmax to 0.5

encoding range is 2.3, which is larger than the required 0.01

encodingmin is adjusted to −1.803922 and encodingmax to 0.496078 to make zero exactly representable

step size is 0.009020

Outputs:

quantized values are [0, 89, 200, 255]
Dequantization Example

Inputs:

quantized values = [0, 89, 200, 255]

encodingmin = −1.803922, encodingmax = 0.496078

step size is 0.009020

Outputs:

dequantized values = [−1.8039, −1.0011, 0.0000, 0.4961]
Quantization Modes
SNPE supports multiple quantization modes. All modes quantize parameters to 8bit fixed point, the difference is in how quantization parameters are chosen.
Default Quantization Mode
The default mode has been described above, and uses the true min/max of the data being quantized, followed by an adjustment of the range to ensure a minimum range and to ensure 0.0 is exactly quantizable.
Enhanced Quantization Mode
Enhanced quantization mode (invoked by using the "use_enhanced_quantizer" parameter to snpedlcquantize) uses an algorithm to try to determine a better set of quantization parameters to improve accuracy. The algorithm may pick a different min/max value than the default quantizer, and in some cases it may set the range such that some of the original weights and/or activations cannot fall into that range. However, this range does produce better accuracy than simply using the true min/max. The enhanced quantizer can be enabled independently for weights and activations by appending either "weights" or "activations" after the option.
This is useful for some models where the weights and/or activations may have "long tails". (Imagine a range with most values between 100 and 1000, but a few values much greater than 1000 or much less than 100.) In some cases these long tails can be ignored and the range 100, 1000 can be used more effectively than the full range.
Enhanced quantizer still enforces a minimum range and ensures 0.0 is exactly quantizable.
Enhanced Quantization Techniques
Quantization can be a difficult problem to solve due to the myriad of training techniques, model architectures, and layer types. In an attempt to mitigate quantization problems two new model preprocessing techniques have been added to snpedlcquantize that may improve quantization performance on models which exhibit sharp drops in accuracy upon quantization.
The two new techniques introduced are CLE (Cross Layer Equalization) and BC (Bias Correction).
CLE works by scaling the convolution weight ranges in the network by making use of a scaleequivariance property of activation functions. In addition, the process absorbs high biases which may be result from weight scaling from one convolution layer to a subsequent convolution layer.
BC corrects the biased error that is introduced in the activations during quantization. It does this by accumulating convolution/MatMul activation data from the floatingpoint model and the quantized model and then corrects for the statistical bias on the layer’s output. This correction is added to the bias of the layer in question.
Enhanced Quantization Techniques: Limitations
In many cases CLE+BC may enable quantized models to return to close to their original floatingpoint accuracy. There are some caveats/limitations to the current algorithms:

CLE operates on specific patterns of operations that all exist in a single branch (outputs cannot be consumed by more than one op). The matched operation patterns (r=required, o=optional) are:

Conv(r)>Batchnorm(r)>activation(o)>Conv(r)>Batchnorm(r)>activation(o)

Conv(r)>Batchnorm(r)>activation(o)>DepthwiseConv(r)>Batchnorm(r)>activation(o)>Conv(r)>Batchnorm(r)>activation(o)

The CLE algorithm currently only supports Relu activations. Any Relu6 activations will be automatically changed to Relu and any activations other than these will cause the algorithm to ignore the preceding convolution. Typically the switch from Relu6>Relu is harmless and does not cause any degradation in accuracy, however some models may exhibit a slight degradation of accuracy. In this case, CLE+BC can only recover accuracy to that degraded level, and not to the original float accuracy.

CLE requires batchnorms (specifically detectable batchnorm beta/gamma data) be present in the original model before conversion to DLC for the complete algorithm to be run and to regain maximum accuracy. For Tensorflow, the beta and gamma can sometimes still be found even with folded batchnorms, so long as the folding didn't fold the parameters into the convolution's static weights and bias. If it does not detect the required information you may see a message that looks like: "Invalid model for HBA quantization algorithm." This indicates the algorithm will only partially run and accuracy issues may likely be present.
Typically CLE and BC are best when used together as they complement one another. CLE is very fast (seconds), however BC can be extremely slow (minutes to hours) as quantization data must be run through the network repeatedly as corrections are made. When time is critical it might be prudent to try CLE first and check the accuracy of the resulting model. If the accuracy is good (within a couple % of the floatingpoint model) then CLE+BC should be run on the original model and will likely give better results. In cases where the accuracy is still poor BC is unlikely to provide much additional accuracy gain.
To run the typical use case, CLE+BC, pass the "optimizations cle bc" to snpedlcquantize.
To run only CLE pass the "optimizations cle" to snpedlcquantize.
The original converted float model should always be used as input to snpedlcquantize. Passing quantized models back to the quantizer is not supported and will result in undefined behavior. In addition, BC should not be run on its own without CLE as it won’t fix major issues with weight/activation quantization.
More information about the algorithms can be found here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.04721
Quantization Impacts
Quantizing a model and/or running it in a quantized runtime (like the DSP) can affect accuracy. Some models may not work well when quantized, and may yield incorrect results. The metrics for measuring impact of quantization on a model that does classification are typically "Mean Average Precision", "Top1 Error" and "Top5 Error". These metrics published in SNPE release notes for various models.