Over the recent years, data has grown drastically in size. For instance, if you take the computer vision domain as an example, datasets such as MNIST and CIFAR-10/100 consist of only 50k training images each, whereas recent datasets such as ImageNet-1k contain over 1 million training images. However, having a larger input data size leads to a much longer model training time on a single GPU/node. In the example mentioned previously, the total training time of a useable state-of-the-art single GPU training model on a CIFAR-10/100 dataset only takes a couple of hours. However, when it comes to the ImageNet-1K dataset, the training time for a GPU model will take days or even weeks.
The standard practice for speeding up the model training process is parallel execution, which is the main focus of this book. The most popular in-parallel model training is called data parallelism. In data parallel training, each GPU/node holds the full copy of a model. Then, it partitions the input data into disjoint subsets, where each GPU/node is only responsible for model training on one of the input partitions. Since each GPU only trains its local model on a subset (not the whole set) of the input data, we need to conduct a procedure called model synchronization periodically. Model synchronization is done to ensure that, after each training iteration, all the GPUs involved in this training job are on the same page. This guarantees that the model copies that are held on different GPUs have the same parameter values.
Data parallelism can also be applied at the model serving stage. Given that the fully-trained model may need to serve a large number of inference tasks, splitting the inference input data can reduce the end-to-end model serving time as well. One major difference compared to data parallel training is that in data parallel inference, all the GPUs/nodes involved in a single job do not need to communicate anymore, which means that the model synchronization phase during data parallel training is completely removed.
This chapter will discuss the bottleneck of model training with large datasets and how data parallelism mitigates this.
The following topics will be covered in this chapter:
- Single-node training is too slow
- Data parallelism – the high-level bits
- Hyperparameter tuning