SC17 Denver, CO

Training Distributed Deep Recurrent Neural Networks with Mixed Precision on GPU Clusters

Workshop: Machine Learning in HPC Environments
Authors: Alexey Svyatkovskiy (Princeton University)

Abstract: In this paper, we evaluate training of deep recurrent neural networks with half-precision floats. We implement a distributed, data-parallel, synchronous training algorithm by integrating TensorFlow and CUDA-aware MPI to enable execution across multiple GPU nodes and making use of high-speed interconnects. We introduce a learning rate schedule facilitating neural network convergence at up to O(100) workers.

Strong scaling tests performed on clusters of NVIDIA Pascal P100 GPUs show linear runtime scaling and logarithmic communication time scaling for both single and mixed precision training modes. Performance is evaluated on a scientific dataset taken from the Joint European Torus (JET) tokamak, containing multi-modal time series of sensory measurements leading up to deleterious events called plasma disruptions. Half-precision significantly reduces memory and network bandwidth, allowing training of state-of-the-art models with over 70 million trainable parameters while achieving a comparable test set performance as single precision.

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