PyTorch Training#

BigDL-Nano can be used to accelerate PyTorch or PyTorch-Lightning applications on training workloads. These optimizations are either enabled by default or can be easily turned on by setting a parameter or calling a method.

The optimizations in BigDL-Nano are delivered through

  1. An extended version of PyTorch-Lightning Trainer (bigdl.nano.pytorch.Trainer) for LightningModule and easy nn.Module.

  2. An abstract TorchNano (bigdl.nano.pytorch.TorchNano) or a decorator @nano (bigdl.nano.pytorch.nano) to accelerate raw or complex nn.Module.

We will briefly describe here the major features in BigDL-Nano for PyTorch training. You can find complete how to guides for acceleration of PyTorch-Lightning and PyTorch.

Best Known Environment Variables#

When you successfully installed bigdl-nano (please refer to installation guide) in a conda environment. You are highly recommeneded to run following command once.

source bigdl-nano-init

BigDL-Nano will export a few environment variables, such as OMP_NUM_THREADS and KMP_AFFINITY, according to your current hardware. Empirically, these environment variables work best for most PyTorch applications. After setting these environment variables, you can just run your applications as usual (e.g., python or jupyter notebook).

Accelerate nn.Module’s training#

nn.Module is the abstraction used in PyTorch for AI Model. It’s common that users’ model is easy enough to be handled by a regular training loop. In other cases, users may have highly customized training loop. Nano could support the acceleration for both cases.

nn.Module with regular training loop#

Most of the AI model defined in nn.Module could be trained in a similar regular training loop. Any nn.Module that

  • Have only one output

  • Need only 1 loss function and 1 optimizer (e.g., GAN might not applied)

  • Have no special customized checkpoint/evaluation logic

could use Trainer.compile that takes in a PyTorch module, a loss, an optimizer, and other PyTorch objects and “compiles” them into a LightningModule. And then a Trainer instance could be used to train this compiled model.

For example,

from bigdl.nano.pytorch import Trainer

lightning_module = Trainer.compile(pytorch_module, loss, optimizer)
trainer = Trainer(max_epochs=10), train_loader) will apply all the acceleration methods that could generally be applied to any models. While there are some optional acceleration method for which you could easily enable.

nn.Module with customized training loop#

The TorchNano class is what we use to accelerate raw PyTorch code. By using it, we only need to make very few changes to accelerate custom training loop. For example,

from bigdl.nano.pytorch import TorchNano

class MyNano(TorchNano) :
    def train(self, ...):
        # copy your train loop here and make a few changes



Please refer to here for a detailed guide about how to make changes to your custom PyTorch training loop so that you could use TorchNano.

Note that the most important change is to use self.setup method to set up model, optimizer(s), and dataloader(s) for acceleration inside the training loop.

If you have already defined a PyTorch training loop function with a model, optimizers, and dataloaders as parameters, you could use @nano decorator to gain acceleration in a simpler way. For example:

from bigdl.nano.pytorch import nano

def train(model, optimizer, train_loader, ...):

train(model, optimizer, train_loader, ...)

See also

Please refer to here for a detailed usage of @nano decorator.

Accelerate LightningModule’s training#

The PyTorch Trainer extends PyTorch Lightning’s Trainer and has a few more parameters and methods specific to BigDL-Nano. The Trainer can be directly used to train a LightningModule.

For example,

from pytorch_lightning import LightningModule
from bigdl.nano.pytorch import Trainer

class MyModule(LightningModule):
    #  LightningModule definition

lightning_module = MyModule()
trainer = Trainer(max_epochs=10), train_loader)

Optional Acceleration Methods#

Intel® Extension for PyTorch*#

Intel Extension for PyTorch* (a.k.a. IPEX) extends PyTorch with optimizations for an extra performance boost on Intel hardware.

BigDL-Nano integrates IPEX in Trainer, TorchNano and @nano decorator. Users can turn on IPEX by setting use_ipex=True.

from bigdl.nano.pytorch import Trainer

trainer = Trainer(max_epochs=10, use_ipex=True)

Multi-instance Training#

When training on a server with dozens of CPU cores, it is often beneficial to use multiple training instances in a data-parallel fashion to make full use of the CPU cores. However, using PyTorch’s DDP API is a little cumbersome and error-prone, and if not configured correctly, it will make the training even slow.

You can just set the num_processes parameter in the Trainer or TorchNano constructor, or the @nano decorator, so that BigDL-Nano will launch the specific number of processes to perform data-parallel training. Each process will be automatically pinned to a different subset of CPU cores to avoid conflict and maximize training throughput.

from bigdl.nano.pytorch import Trainer

trainer = Trainer(max_epochs=10, num_processes=4)


The effective batch size in multi-instance training is the batch_size in your dataloader times num_processes. So, the number of iterations of each epoch will be reduced num_processes fold. To achieve the same effect as single instance training, a common practice to compensate is to gradually increase the learning rate to num_processes times.

BigDL-Nano supports this practice by default through auto_lr=Ture, which will scale the learning rate linearly by num_processes times.

To get more details about this ‘learning rate warmup’ trick, you could refer to this paper published by Facebook.

BFloat16 Mixed Precision#

BFloat16 Mixed Precison combines BFloat16 and FP32 during training, which could lead to increased performance and reduced memory usage. Compared to FP16 mixed precison, BFloat16 mixed precision has better numerical stability.

You could instantiate a BigDL-Nano Trainer or TorchNano with precision='bf16', or set precision='bf16' in the @nano decorator to use BFloat16 mixed precision for training.

from bigdl.nano.pytorch import Trainer

trainer = Trainer(max_epochs=5, precision='bf16')

Channels Last Memory Format#

You could instantiate a BigDL-Nano Trainer or TorchNano with channels_last=True, or set channels_last=True in the @nano decorator to use the channels last memory format, i.e. NHWC (batch size, height, width, channels), as an alternative way to store tensors in classic/contiguous NCHW order.

from bigdl.nano.pytorch import Trainer

trainer = Trainer(max_epochs=5, channels_last=True)

Accelerate torchvision data processing#

Computer Vision task often needs a data processing pipeline that sometimes constitutes a non-trivial part of the whole training pipeline.

Leveraging OpenCV and libjpeg-turbo, BigDL-Nano can accelerate computer vision data pipelines by providing a drop-in replacement of torchvision’s components such as datasets and transforms. Nano provides a patch API patch_torch to accelerate these functions.

from bigdl.nano.pytorch import patch_torch

from torchvision.datasets import ImageFolder
from torchvision import transforms

data_transform = transforms.Compose([

train_set = ImageFolder(train_path, data_transform)
train_loader = DataLoader(train_set, batch_size=batch_size, shuffle=True)