SC17 Denver, CO

An Efficient Task-Based All-Reduce for Machine Learning Applications

Workshop: Machine Learning in HPC Environments
Authors: Zhenyu Li (University of Warwick)

Abstract: All-Reduce is a collective-combine operation frequently utilised in synchronous parameter updates in parallel machine learning algorithms. The performance of this operation - and subsequently of the algorithm itself - is heavily dependent on its implementation, configuration and on the supporting hardware on which it is run. Given the pivotal role of all-reduce, a failure in any of these regards will significantly impact the resulting scientific output.

In this research, we explore the performance of alternative all-reduce algorithms in data-flow graphs and compare these to the commonly used reduce-broadcast approach. We present an architecture and interface for all-reduce in task-based frameworks, and a parallelization scheme for object-serialization and computation. We present a concrete, novel application of a butterfly all-reduce algorithm on the Apache Spark framework on a high-performance compute cluster, and demonstrate the effectiveness of the new butterfly algorithm with a logarithmic speed-up with respect to the vector length compared with the original reduce-broadcast method - a 9x speed-up is observed for vector lengths in the order of 10^8. This improvement is comprised of both algorithmic changes (65%) and parallel-processing optimization (35%).

The effectiveness of the new butterfly all-reduce is demonstrated using real-world neural network applications with the Spark framework. For the model-update operation we observe significant speed-ups using the new butterfly algorithm compared with the original reduce-broadcast, for both smaller (Cifar and Mnist) and larger (ImageNet) datasets.

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