Neural architecture search (NAS) methods aim to automatically find the optimal deep neural network (DNN) architecture as measured by a given objective function, typically some combination of task accuracy and inference efficiency. For many areas, such as computer vision and natural language processing, this is a critical, yet still time consuming process. New NAS methods have recently made progress in improving the efficiency of this process. We implement an extensible and modular framework for Differentiable Neural Architecture Search (DNAS) to help solve this problem. We include an overview of the major components of our codebase and how they interact, as well as a section on implementing extensions to it (including a sample), in order to help users adopt our framework for their applications across different categories of deep learning models. To assess the capabilities of our methodology and implementation, we apply DNAS to the problem of ads click-through rate (CTR) prediction, arguably the highest-value and most worked on AI problem at hyperscalers today. We develop and tailor novel search spaces to a Deep Learning Recommendation Model (DLRM) backbone for CTR prediction, and report state-of-the-art results on the Criteo Kaggle CTR prediction dataset.
Checkpoints play an important role in training recommendation systems at scale. They are important for many use cases, including failure recovery to ensure rapid training progress, and online training to improve inference prediction accuracy. Checkpoints are typically written to remote, persistent storage. Given the typically large and ever-increasing recommendation model sizes, the checkpoint frequency and effectiveness is often bottlenecked by the storage write bandwidth and capacity, as well as the network bandwidth. We present Check-N-Run, a scalable checkpointing system for training large recommendation models. Check-N-Run uses two primary approaches to address these challenges. First, it applies incremental checkpointing, which tracks and checkpoints the modified part of the model. On top of that, it leverages quantization techniques to significantly reduce the checkpoint size, without degrading training accuracy. These techniques allow Check-N-Run to reduce the required write bandwidth by 6-17x and the required capacity by 2.5-8x on real-world models at Facebook, and thereby significantly improve checkpoint capabilities while reducing the total cost of ownership.
This paper presents the first comprehensive empirical study demonstrating the efficacy of the Brain Floating Point (BFLOAT16) half-precision format for Deep Learning training across image classification, speech recognition, language modeling, generative networks and industrial recommendation systems. BFLOAT16 is attractive for Deep Learning training for two reasons: the range of values it can represent is the same as that of IEEE 754 floating-point format (FP32) and conversion to/from FP32 is simple. Maintaining the same range as FP32 is important to ensure that no hyper-parameter tuning is required for convergence; e.g., IEEE 754 compliant half-precision floating point (FP16) requires hyper-parameter tuning. In this paper, we discuss the flow of tensors and various key operations in mixed precision training, and delve into details of operations, such as the rounding modes for converting FP32 tensors to BFLOAT16. We have implemented a method to emulate BFLOAT16 operations in Tensorflow, Caffe2, IntelCaffe, and Neon for our experiments. Our results show that deep learning training using BFLOAT16 tensors achieves the same state-of-the-art (SOTA) results across domains as FP32 tensors in the same number of iterations and with no changes to hyper-parameters.
With the advent of deep learning, neural network-based recommendation models have emerged as an important tool for tackling personalization and recommendation tasks. These networks differ significantly from other deep learning networks due to their need to handle categorical features and are not well studied or understood. In this paper, we develop a state-of-the-art deep learning recommendation model (DLRM) and provide its implementation in both PyTorch and Caffe2 frameworks. In addition, we design a specialized parallelization scheme utilizing model parallelism on the embedding tables to mitigate memory constraints while exploiting data parallelism to scale-out compute from the fully-connected layers. We compare DLRM against existing recommendation models and characterize its performance on the Big Basin AI platform, demonstrating its usefulness as a benchmark for future algorithmic experimentation and system co-design.
Typical large-scale recommender systems use deep learning models that are stored on a large amount of DRAM. These models often rely on embeddings, which consume most of the required memory. We present Bandana, a storage system that reduces the DRAM footprint of embeddings, by using Non-volatile Memory (NVM) as the primary storage medium, with a small amount of DRAM as cache. The main challenge in storing embeddings on NVM is its limited read bandwidth compared to DRAM. Bandana uses two primary techniques to address this limitation: first, it stores embedding vectors that are likely to be read together in the same physical location, using hypergraph partitioning, and second, it decides the number of embedding vectors to cache in DRAM by simulating dozens of small caches. These techniques allow Bandana to increase the effective read bandwidth of NVM by 2-3x and thereby significantly reduce the total cost of ownership.