Analysis of Distributed Optimization Algorithms on a Real Processing-In-Memory System

Machine Learning (ML) training on large-scale datasets is a very expensive and time-consuming workload. Processor-centric architectures (e.g., CPU, GPU) commonly used for modern ML training workloads are limited by the data movement bottleneck, i.e., due to repeatedly accessing the training dataset. As a result, processor-centric systems suffer from performance degradation and high energy consumption. Processing-In-Memory (PIM) is a promising solution to alleviate the data movement bottleneck by placing the computation mechanisms inside or near memory. Our goal is to understand the capabilities and characteristics of popular distributed optimization algorithms on real-world PIM architectures to accelerate data-intensive ML training workloads. To this end, we 1) implement several representative centralized distributed optimization algorithms on UPMEM's real-world general-purpose PIM system, 2) rigorously evaluate these algorithms for ML training on large-scale datasets in terms of performance, accuracy, and scalability, 3) compare to conventional CPU and GPU baselines, and 4) discuss implications for future PIM hardware and the need to shift to an algorithm-hardware codesign perspective to accommodate decentralized distributed optimization algorithms. Our results demonstrate three major findings: 1) Modern general-purpose PIM architectures can be a viable alternative to state-of-the-art CPUs and GPUs for many memory-bound ML training workloads, when operations and datatypes are natively supported by PIM hardware, 2) the importance of carefully choosing the optimization algorithm that best fit PIM, and 3) contrary to popular belief, contemporary PIM architectures do not scale approximately linearly with the number of nodes for many data-intensive ML training workloads. To facilitate future research, we aim to open-source our complete codebase.

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