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QMoE: Sub-1-Bit Compression of Trillion Parameter Models

Elias Frantar · Dan Alistarh

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Tue 14 May 9:20 a.m. PDT — 9:40 a.m. PDT


Mixture-of-Experts (MoE) architectures offer a general solution to the high inference costs of large language models (LLMs) via sparse routing, bringing faster and more accurate models, at the cost of massive parameter counts. For example, the SwitchTransformer-c2048 model has 1.6 trillion parameters, requiring 3.2TB of accelerator memory to run efficiently, which makes practical deployment challenging and expensive. In this paper, we present a solution to this memory problem, in form of a new compression and execution framework called QMoE. Specifically, QMoE consists of a scalable algorithm which accurately compresses trillion-parameter MoEs to less than 1 bit per parameter, in a custom format co-designed with bespoke GPU decoding kernels to facilitate efficient end-to-end compressed inference, with minor runtime overheads relative to uncompressed execution. Concretely, QMoE can compress the 1.6 trillion parameter SwitchTransformer-c2048 model to less than 160GB (20x compression, 0.8 bits per parameter) at only minor accuracy loss, in less than a day on a single GPU. This enables, for the first time, the execution of a trillion-parameter model on affordable commodity hardware, like a single server with 4x NVIDIA A6000 or 8x NVIDIA 3090 GPUs, at less than 5% runtime overhead relative to ideal uncompressed inference. The anonymized code is available at:

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