SC20 Proceedings

The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis

Herring: Rethinking the Parameter Server at Scale for the Cloud

Authors: Indu Thangakrishnan, Derya Cavdar, Can Karakus, Piyush Ghai, Yauheni Selivonchyk, and Cory Pruce (Amazon Web Services)

Abstract: Training large deep neural networks is time-consuming and may take days or even weeks to complete. Although parameter-server-based approaches were initially popular in distributed training, scalability issues led the field to move towards all-reduce-based approaches. Recent developments in cloud networking technologies, however, such as the Elastic Fabric Adapter (EFA) and Scalable Reliable Datagram (SRD), motivate a re-thinking of the parameter-server approach to address its fundamental inefficiencies.

To this end, we introduce a novel communication library, Herring, which is designed to alleviate the performance bottlenecks in parameter-server-based training. We show that gradient reduction with Herring is twice as fast as all-reduce-based methods. We further demonstrate that training deep learning models like BERT using Herring outperforms all-reduce-based training, achieving 85% scaling efficiency on large clusters with up to 2048 NVIDIA V100 GPUs.

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