|TensorFlow 1 version|
Library for running a computation across multiple devices.
The intent of this library is that you can write an algorithm in a stylized way
and it will be usable with a variety of different
implementations. Each descendant will implement a different strategy for
distributing the algorithm across multiple devices/machines. Furthermore, these
changes can be hidden inside the specific layers and other library classes that
need special treatment to run in a distributed setting, so that most users'
model definition code can run unchanged. The
tf.distribute.Strategy API works
the same way with eager and graph execution.
The tutorials cover how to use
tf.distribute.Strategyto do distributed training with native Keras APIs, custom training loops, and Estimator APIs. They also cover how to save/load model when using
- Data parallelism is where we run multiple copies of the model on different slices of the input data. This is in contrast to model parallelism where we divide up a single copy of a model across multiple devices. Note: we only support data parallelism for now, but hope to add support for model parallelism in the future.
- A device is a CPU or accelerator (e.g. GPUs, TPUs) on some machine that
TensorFlow can run operations on (see e.g.
tf.device). You may have multiple devices on a single machine, or be connected to devices on multiple machines. Devices used to run computations are called worker devices. Devices used to store variables are parameter devices. For some strategies, such as
tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy, the worker and parameter devices will be the same (see mirrored variables below). For others they will be different. For example,
tf.distribute.experimental.CentralStorageStrategyputs the variables on a single device (which may be a worker device or may be the CPU), and
tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategyputs the variables on separate machines called parameter servers (see below).
- A replica is one copy of the model, running on one slice of the input data. Right now each replica is executed on its own worker device, but once we add support for model parallelism a replica may span multiple worker devices.
- A host is the CPU device on a machine with worker devices, typically used for running input pipelines.
- A worker is defined to be the physical machine(s) containing the physical devices (e.g. GPUs, TPUs) on which the replicated computation is executed. A worker may contain one or more replicas, but contains at least one replica. Typically one worker will correspond to one machine, but in the case of very large models with model parallelism, one worker may span multiple machines. We typically run one input pipeline per worker, feeding all the replicas on that worker.
- Synchronous, or more commonly sync, training is where the updates from each replica are aggregated together before updating the model variables. This is in contrast to asynchronous, or async training, where each replica updates the model variables independently. You may also have replicas partitioned into groups which are in sync within each group but async between groups.
Parameter servers: These are machines that hold a single copy of parameters/variables, used by some strategies (right now just
tf.distribute.experimental.ParameterServerStrategy). All replicas that want to operate on a variable retrieve it at the beginning of a step and send an update to be applied at the end of the step. These can in principle support either sync or async training, but right now we only have support for async training with parameter servers. Compare to
tf.distribute.experimental.CentralStorageStrategy, which puts all variables on a single device on the same machine (and does sync training), and
tf.distribute.MirroredStrategy, which mirrors variables to multiple devices (see below).
Replica context vs. Cross-replica context vs Update context
A replica context applies when you execute the computation function that was called with
strategy.run. Conceptually, you're in replica context when executing the computation function that is being replicated.
An update context is entered in a
An cross-replica context is entered when you enter a
strategy.scope. This is useful for calling
tf.distribute.Strategymethods which operate across the replicas (like
reduce_to()). By default you start in a replica context (the "default single replica context") and then some methods can switch you back and forth.
Distributed value: Distributed value is represented by the base class
tf.distribute.DistributedValuesis useful to represent values on multiple devices, and it contains a map from replica id to values. Two representative kinds of
tf.distribute.DistributedValuesare "PerReplica" and "Mirrored" values.
"PerReplica" values exist on the worker devices, with a different value for each replica. They are produced by iterating through a distributed dataset returned by
tf.distribute.Strategy.distribute_datasets_from_function. They are also the typical result returned by
"Mirrored" values are like "PerReplica" values, except we know that the value on all replicas are the same. We can safely read a "Mirrored" value in a cross-replica context by using the value on any replica.
Unwrapping and merging: Consider calling a function
fnon multiple replicas, like
strategy.run(fn, args=[w])with an argument
wthat is a
tf.distribute.DistributedValues. This means
wwill have a map taking replica id
w0, replica id
fn, so it calls
d1, etc. It then merges the return values from
fn(), which leads to one common object if the returned values are the same object from every replica, or a
Reductions and all-reduce: A reduction is a method of aggregating multiple values into one value, like "sum" or "mean". If a strategy is doing sync training, we will perform a reduction on the gradients to a parameter from all replicas before applying the update. All-reduce is an algorithm for performing a reduction on values from multiple devices and making the result available on all of those devices.
Mirrored variables: These are variables that are created on multiple devices, where we keep the variables in sync by applying the same updates to every copy. Mirrored variables are created with
tf.Variable(...synchronization=tf.VariableSynchronization.ON_WRITE...). Normally they are only used in synchronous training.
SyncOnRead variables are created by
tf.Variable(...synchronization=tf.VariableSynchronization.ON_READ...), and they are created on multiple devices. In replica context, each component variable on the local replica can perform reads and writes without synchronization with each other. When the SyncOnRead variable is read in cross-replica context, the values from component variables are aggregated and returned.