“GPipe is a distributed machine learning library that uses synchronous stochastic gradient descent and pipeline parallelism for training, applicable to any DNN that consists of multiple sequential layers. Importantly, GPipe allows researchers to easily deploy more accelerators to train larger models and to scale the performance without tuning hyperparameters,” wrote Yanping Huang, Software Engineer, Google AI, in a blog post.

The ongoing development and success of many practical machine learning applications, such as autonomous driving and medical imaging, depend on achieving the highest accuracy possible. “As this often requires building larger and even more complex models, we are happy to provide GPipe to the broader research community, and hope it is a useful infrastructure for efficient training of large-scale DNNs,” Huang said.

Huang further explained that there are two standard ways to speed up moderate-size DNN models. The data parallelism approach employs more machines and splits the input data across them. Another way is to move the model to accelerators, such as GPUs or TPUs, which have special hardware to accelerate model training. However, accelerators have limited memory and limited communication bandwidth with the host machine. Thus, model parallelism is needed for training a bigger DNN model on accelerators by dividing the model into partitions and assigning different partitions to different accelerators.

“But due to the sequential nature of DNNs, this naive strategy may result in only one accelerator being active during computation, significantly underutilizing accelerator compute capacity. On the other hand, a standard data parallelism approach allows concurrent training of the same model with different input data on multiple accelerators, but cannot increase the maximum model size an accelerator can support. To enable efficient training across multiple accelerators, GPipe partitions a model across different accelerators and automatically splits a mini-batch of training examples into smaller micro-batches. By pipelining the execution across micro-batches, accelerators can operate in parallel. In addition, gradients are consistently accumulated across micro-batches, so that the number of partitions does not affect the model quality,” he added.

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