Cutting Down Training Memory by Re-fowarding

ICLR 2019  ·  Jianwei Feng, Dong Huang ·

Deep Neutral Networks(DNNs) require huge GPU memory when training on modern image/video databases. Unfortunately, the GPU memory as a hardware resource is always finite, which limits the image resolution, batch size, and learning rate that could be used for better DNN performance. In this paper, we propose a novel training approach, called Re-forwarding, that substantially reduces memory usage in training. Our approach automatically finds a subset of vertices in a DNN computation graph, and stores tensors only at these vertices during the first forward. During backward, extra local forwards (called the Re-forwarding process) are conducted to compute the missing tensors between the subset of vertices. The total memory cost becomes the sum of (1) the memory cost at the subset of vertices and (2) the maximum memory cost among local re-forwards. Re-forwarding trades training time overheads for memory and does not compromise any performance in testing. We propose theories and algorithms that achieve the optimal memory solutions for DNNs with either linear or arbitrary computation graphs. Experiments show that Re-forwarding cuts down up-to 80% of training memory on popular DNNs such as Alexnet, VGG, ResNet, Densenet and Inception net.

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