Publication: CPU Performance Optimizations for RBM and CRBM

Recently, we have published a paper about performance optimizations that may interest you.

The paper is On CPU Performance Optimizations for Restricted Boltzmann Machine and Convolutional RBM, published in the Proceedings of the Artificial Neural Networks and Pattern Recognition workshop (ANNPR-2016). I've presented this paper in Germany, at Ulm.

Although most of the performance research going on is focused on GPU, there are still of research laboratories that are only equipped with CPU and it remains important to be as fast as possible on CPU. Moreover, this is something I really like.

For this publication, I have tried to make my Restricted Boltzmann Machine (RBM) and Convolutional RBM (CRBM) implementations in my DLL library as fast as possible.

The first part of the article is about Restricted Boltzmann Machine (RBM) which are a form of dense Artificial Neural Network (ANN). Their training is very similar to that of the ANN with Gradient Descent. Four different network configurations are being tested.

First, mini-batch training is shown to be much faster than online training, even when online training is performed in parallel. Once mini-batch training is used, BLAS operations are used in order to get as much performance as possible on the different operations, mainly the Matrix Matrix Multiplication with the use of the GEMM operation from the Intel Math Kernel Library (MKL). Moreover, the parallel version of the MKL is also used to get even more performance. When all these optimizations are performed, speedups of 11 to 30 are obtained compared to the online training, depending on the network configurations. This final version is able to perform one epoch of Contrastive Divergence in 4 to 15 seconds depending on the network, for 60000 images.

The second part of the article is about Convolutional Restricted Boltzmann Machine (CRBM). This is almost the equivalent of a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN). Again four different networks are evaluated.

The main problem with CRBM is that there are no standard implementations of the convolution operation that is really fast. Therefore, it is not possible to simply use a BLAS library to make the computation as fast as possible. The first optimization that was tried is to vectorize the convolutions. With this, the speedups have been between 1.1 and 1.9 times faster. I'm not really satisfied with these results since in fact per convolution the speedups are much better. Moreover, I have since been able to obtain better speedups but the deadline was too short to include them in this paper. I'll try to talk about these improvements in more details on this blog. What is more interesting to to parallellize the different convolutions since they are mostly independent. This can bring a speedup of the amount of cores available on the machine. Since convolutions are extremely memory hungry, virtual cores with Hyper Threading generally does not help. An interesting optimization is to use a Matrix Multiplication to compute several valid convolutions at once. This can give an additional speedup between 1.6 and 2.2 compared to the vectorized version. While it is possible to use the FFT to reduce the full convolution as well, in our experiment the images were not big enough for this to be interesting. The final speedups are about 10 times faster with these optimizations.

We have obtained pretty good and I'm happy we have been published. However, I'm not very satisfied with these results since I've been able to get even faster since this and when compared with other frameworks, DLL is actually quite competitive. I'll try to publish something new in the future.

If you want more information, you can have a look at the paper. If you want to look at the code, you can have a look at my projects:

Don't hesitate to ask any questions if you want more information :)

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