Echo: Compiler-based GPU Memory Footprint Reduction for LSTM RNN Training

22 May 2018  ·  Bojian Zheng, Abhishek Tiwari, Nandita Vijaykumar, Gennady Pekhimenko ·

The Long-Short-Term-Memory Recurrent Neural Networks (LSTM RNNs) are a popular class of machine learning models for analyzing sequential data. Their training on modern GPUs, however, is limited by the GPU memory capacity... Our profiling results of the LSTM RNN-based Neural Machine Translation (NMT) model reveal that feature maps of the attention and RNN layers form the memory bottleneck and runtime is unevenly distributed across different layers when training on GPUs. Based on these two observations, we propose to recompute the feature maps rather than stashing them persistently in the GPU memory. While the idea of feature map recomputation has been considered before, existing solutions fail to deliver satisfactory footprint reduction, as they do not address two key challenges. For each feature map recomputation to be effective and efficient, its effect on (1) the total memory footprint, and (2) the total execution time has to be carefully estimated. To this end, we propose *Echo*, a new compiler-based optimization scheme that addresses the first challenge with a practical mechanism that estimates the memory benefits of recomputation over the entire computation graph, and the second challenge by non-conservatively estimating the recomputation overhead leveraging layer specifics. *Echo* reduces the GPU memory footprint automatically and transparently without any changes required to the training source code, and is effective for models beyond LSTM RNNs. We evaluate *Echo* on numerous state-of-the-art machine learning workloads on real systems with modern GPUs and observe footprint reduction ratios of 1.89X on average and 3.13X maximum. Such reduction can be converted into faster training with a larger batch size, savings in GPU energy consumption (e.g., training with one GPU as fast as with four), and/or an increase in the maximum number of layers under the same GPU memory budget. read more

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