Persia: An Open, Hybrid System Scaling Deep Learning-based Recommenders up to 100 Trillion Parameters

Deep learning based models have dominated the current landscape of production recommender systems. Furthermore, recent years have witnessed an exponential growth of the model scale--from Google's 2016 model with 1 billion parameters to the latest Facebook's model with 12 trillion parameters. Significant quality boost has come with each jump of the model capacity, which makes us believe the era of 100 trillion parameters is around the corner. However, the training of such models is challenging even within industrial scale data centers. This difficulty is inherited from the staggering heterogeneity of the training computation--the model's embedding layer could include more than 99.99% of the total model size, which is extremely memory-intensive; while the rest neural network is increasingly computation-intensive. To support the training of such huge models, an efficient distributed training system is in urgent need. In this paper, we resolve this challenge by careful co-design of both the optimization algorithm and the distributed system architecture. Specifically, in order to ensure both the training efficiency and the training accuracy, we design a novel hybrid training algorithm, where the embedding layer and the dense neural network are handled by different synchronization mechanisms; then we build a system called Persia (short for parallel recommendation training system with hybrid acceleration) to support this hybrid training algorithm. Both theoretical demonstration and empirical study up to 100 trillion parameters have conducted to justified the system design and implementation of Persia. We make Persia publicly available (at so that anyone would be able to easily train a recommender model at the scale of 100 trillion parameters.

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