FFSplit: Split Feed-Forward Network For Optimizing Accuracy-Efficiency Trade-off in Language Model Inference

The large number of parameters in Pretrained Language Models enhance their performance, but also make them resource-intensive, making it challenging to deploy them on commodity hardware like a single GPU. Due to the memory and power limitations of these devices, model compression techniques are often used to decrease both the model's size and its inference latency. This usually results in a trade-off between model accuracy and efficiency. Therefore, optimizing this balance is essential for effectively deploying LLMs on commodity hardware. A significant portion of the efficiency challenge is the Feed-forward network (FFN) component, which accounts for roughly $\frac{2}{3}$ total parameters and inference latency. In this paper, we first observe that only a few neurons of FFN module have large output norm for any input tokens, a.k.a. heavy hitters, while the others are sparsely triggered by different tokens. Based on this observation, we explicitly split the FFN into two parts according to the heavy hitters. We improve the efficiency-accuracy trade-off of existing compression methods by allocating more resource to FFN parts with heavy hitters. In practice, our method can reduce model size by 43.1\% and bring $1.25\sim1.56\times$ wall clock time speedup on different hardware with negligible accuracy drop.

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