Deep Learning is very computationally intensive, so you will need a fast CPU with many cores, right? Or is it maybe wasteful to buy a fast CPU? One of the worst things you can do when building a deep learning system is to waste money on hardware that is unnecessary. Here I will guide you step by step through the hardware you will need for a cheap high performance system.
In my last blog post I explained what model and data parallelism is and analysed how to use data parallelism effectively in deep learning. In this blog post I will focus on model parallelism.
In my last blog post I showed what to look out for when you build a GPU cluster. Most importantly, you want a fast network connection between your servers and using MPI in your programming will make things much easier than to use the options available in CUDA itself.
In this blog post I explain how to utilize such a cluster to parallelize neural networks in different ways and what the advantages and downfalls are for such algorithms. The two different algorithms are data and model parallelism. In this blog entry I will focus on data parallelism.
When I started using GPUs for deep learning my deep learning skills improved quickly. When you can run experiments of algorithms and algorithms with different parameters and gain rapid feedback you can just learn much more quickly. At the beginning, deep learning is a lot of trial and error: You have to get a feel what parameters need to be adjusted, or what puzzle piece is missing in order to get a good result. A GPU helps you to fail quickly and learn important lessons so that you can keep improving. Soon my deep learning skills were sufficient to take the 2nd place in the Crowdflower competition where the task was to predict weather labels from given tweets (sunny, raining etc.).
After this success I was tempted to use multiple GPUs in order to train deep learning algorithms even faster. I also took interest in learning very large models which do not fit into a single GPU. I thus wanted to build a little GPU cluster and explore the possibilities to speed up deep learning with multiple nodes with multiple GPUs. At the same time I was offered to do contract work as a data base developer through my old employer. This gave me opportunity to get the money to build the GPU cluster I thought of.
It is again and again amazing to see how much speedup you get when you use GPUs for deep learning: Compared to CPUs 5x speedups are typical, but on larger problems one can achieve 10x speedups. With GPUs you can try out new ideas, algorithms and experiments much faster than usual and get almost immediate feedback as to what works and what does not. If you are serious about deep learning you should definitely get a GPU. But which one should you get? In this blog post I will guide you through the choices to the GPU which is best for you.