We are excited to announce the release of neon™ 2.3.0. It ships with significant performance improvements for Deep Speech 2 (DS2) and VGG models running on Intel® architecture (IA). For the DS2 model, our tests show up to 6.8X improvement1,4 with the
(Intel® MKL) backend over the NumPy CPU backend with neon™ 2.3.0, and more than 2X improvement2,4 over neon™ 2.2.0. For the VGG-16 model, we observed up to 2.8X3,4 performance improvement over neon™ 2.2.0.
To improve performance on DS2, we added data layout optimizations to make memory access more compatible with Intel® MKL (version:mklml_lnx_2018.0.20170908). We also added more optimized C/OpenMP* kernels replacing vanilla python implementations. These optimizations boosted neon™ 2.3.0 DS2 performance on IA by as much as 6.8X when compared to performance achieved by neon’s NumPy CPU backend (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Training performance comparison of neon Deep Speech 2 with v2.2.0 and v2.3.0 for the NumPy CPU backend and the faster Intel® MKL backend running on a dual-socket Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8180 platform.
For the VGG-16 and AlexNet models, we improved training throughput by more than 2X. We’ve added an optimization that fuses the convolution and bias layers in neon to minimize (or eliminate) costly tensor layout conversions in between layers. This promises good performance for models like VGG-16 and Alexnet—both of which have convolutional layers with bias as the basic layers. Figure 2 shows the training performance comparison of AlexNet and VGG-16 between neon v2.2 and neon v2.3 for the MKL backend on a dual-socket Intel Xeon Platinum 8168 platform. After fusing the two layers, we maximized the time that code is executing in accelerated Intel® MKL mode to minimize the overall time it took to run the models. As a result, the performance improved up to 2.1X4 for AlexNet and up to 2.8X4 for VGG-16.
Figure 2: The training performance of AlexNet and VGG using the Intel® MKL backend of neon v2.2.0 and v2.3.0 on a dual-socket Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8168 platform. ImageNet dataset (1000 classes) was used.
The authors would like to acknowledge Hanlin Tang’s help in realizing the fusion of convolution and bias across all three backends in neon, Baojun Liu’s validation effort, and Wadim Sokolowski’s help in generating the performance data for AlexNet and VGG-16.
1 Configuration details: 2S Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8180 CPU@2.5GHz (28 cores), HT enabled, turbo on, 192GB ECC RAM, CentOS Linux Release 7.3, Linux Kernel 126.96.36.1994.el7.x86_64, Intel SSD 400GB. neon™ 2.3.0 (https://github.com/NervanaSystems/neon/commits/v2.3.0) commit id 9eb09d79cb65c4854db9f5d0140ad7a8e247359e and DS2 (https://github.com/NervanaSystems/deepspeech) commit id e55159d56569ff16c75369141a42fd5589d83279 were used to run. DS2 batch size 32 and speech sample length of 30 seconds were used. For Intel® MKL backend, KMP_AFFINITY and OMP_NUM_THREADS settings are “export KMP_AFFINITY=compact,0,1,verbose” and
“export OMP_NUM_THREADS=56”. For NumPy backend, NumPy was used without BLAS or LAPACK libraries. icc version 188.8.131.52 was used. LibriSpeech dataset (100 hours) was used.
2 Configuration details: Same as above but neon™ 2.2.0 (https://github.com/NervanaSystems/neon/commits/v2.2.0) commit id 5843e7116d880dfc59c8fb558beb58dd2ef421d0 was used.
3 Configuration details: 2S Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8168 CPU@2.7GHz (24 cores), HT enabled, turbo on, 192GB ECC RAM, OS: Ubuntu-14.04-trusty, Intel SSD 800GB. neon™ 2.3.0 (https://github.com/NervanaSystems/neon/commits/v2.3.0) commit id 9eb09d79cb65c4854db9f5d0140ad7a8e247359e and DS2 (https://github.com/NervanaSystems/deepspeech) commit id e55159d56569ff16c75369141a42fd5589d83279 were used to run. AlexNet batch size 256 and VGG-16 batch size 64 were used. For Intel® MKL backend, KMP_AFFINITY and OMP_NUM_THREADS settings are “export KMP_AFFINITY=compact,0,1,granularity=fine” and “export OMP_NUM_THREADS=48”. For NumPy backend, NumPy was used without BLAS or LAPACK libraries. ImageNet (1000 classes, 1.28Million images) dataset was used.
4The performance claims are based on the following data points:
|Model/neon version||Performance Result|
|DS2 run with neon v2.3.0 NumPy CPU backend (batch size = 32, sample length=30 seconds)||140 seconds/batch|
|DS2 run with neon v2.3.0 Intel® MKL backend (same as above)||20.5 seconds/batch|
|DS2 run with neon v2.2.0 NumPy CPU backend (same as above)||153 seconds/batch|
|DS2 run with neon v2.2.0 Intel® MKL backend (same as above)||50.4 seconds/batch|
|VGG-16 run with neon v2.3.0 Intel® MKL backend (batch size 64)||41.5 images/sec|
|VGG-16 run with neon v2.2.0 Intel® MKL backend (batch size 64)||14.1 images/sec|
|AlexNet run with neon v2.3.0 Intel® MKL backend (batch size 256)||550 images/sec|
|AlexNet run with neon v2.2.0 Intel® MKL backend (batch size 256)||250 images/sec|
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