Sparsity 1: Models and Algorithms

Ballroom C

Moderator: Beidi Chen


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Ballroom B - Position 16
MegaBlocks: Efficient Sparse Training with Mixture-of-Experts

Trevor Gale · Deepak Narayanan · Cliff Young · Matei Zaharia

We present MegaBlocks, a system for efficient Mixture-of-Experts (MoE) training on GPUs. Our system ismotivated by the limitations of current frameworks, which restrict the dynamic routing in MoE layers to satisfythe constraints of existing software and hardware. These formulations force a tradeoff between model quality andhardware efficiency, as users must choose between dropping tokens from the computation or wasting computationand memory on padding. To address these limitations, we reformulate MoE computation in terms of block-sparseoperations and develop new block-sparse GPU kernels that efficiently handle the dynamism present in MoEs. Ourapproach never drops tokens and maps efficiently to modern hardware, enabling end-to-end training speedups ofup to 40% over MoEs trained with the state-of-the-art Tutel library and 2.4× over dense DNNs trained with thehighly-optimized Megatron-LM framework.

Ballroom B - Position 17
Uniform Sparsity in Deep Neural Networks

Saurav Muralidharan

Deep neural networks are often highly over-parameterized, and weight pruning or sparsification can be an effective method for reducing both their memory footprints and inference latencies. Among existing pruning strategies, unstructured or fine-grained pruning typically achieves the highest compression ratios and lowest task errors; unfortunately, such irregular and non-uniform sparsity leads to significant load imbalance and consequently degraded performance on parallel architectures. Recent attempts to accelerate unstructured sparsity on GPUs have focused on the 90-99% sparsity regime, where most modern DNNs have been shown to lose considerable accuracy. In this paper, we introduce the uniform sparsity pattern that ensures a constant number of non-zero values per row of the sparse matrix, and thus lends itself well to efficient, load-balanced execution on modern parallel architectures. Uniform sparsity achieves useful speedups in both the moderate (50-90%) and high (90%+) sparsity regimes and performs similarly to unstructured sparsity in terms of accuracy. We describe how uniform sparsity is induced on DNN weights and present optimized kernels that accelerate uniform sparsity on GPUs. We evaluate uniform sparsity on a range of real-world networks and synthetic data, and demonstrate mean performance improvements of up to 62% over the NVIDIA cuSparse library at iso-accuracy settings.

Ballroom B - Position 18
Cuttlefish: Low-Rank Model Training without All the Tuning

Hongyi Wang · Saurabh Agarwal · Pongsakorn U-chupala · Yoshiki Tanaka · Eric Xing · Dimitris Papailiopoulos

Recent research has shown that training low-rank neural networks can effectively reduce the total number of trainable parameters without sacrificing predictive accuracy, resulting in end-to-end speedups. However, low-rank model training necessitates adjusting several additional factorization hyperparameters, such as the rank of the factorization at each layer. In this paper, we tackle this challenge by introducing Cuttlefish, an automated low-rank training approach that eliminates the need for tuning factorization hyperparameters. Cuttlefish leverages the observation that after a few epochs of full-rank training, the stable rank (i.e., an approximation of the true rank) of each layer stabilizes at a constant value. Cuttlefish switches from full-rank to low-rank training once the stable ranks of all layers have converged, setting the dimension of each factorization to its corresponding stable rank. Our results show that Cuttlefish generates models up to 5.6 times smaller than full-rank models, and attains up to a 1.2 times faster end-to-end training process while preserving comparable accuracy. Moreover, Cuttlefish outperforms state-of-the-art low-rank model training methods and other prominent baselines. The source code for our implementation can be found at: