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Understanding concurrent instances in AIXPRT

Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed several of the key configuration variables in AIXPRT, such as batch size and level of precision. Today, we’re discussing another key variable: number of concurrent instances. In the context of machine learning inference, this refers to how many instances of the network model (ResNet-50, SSD-MobileNet, etc.) the benchmark runs simultaneously.

By default, the toolkits in AIXPRT run one instance at a time and distribute the compute load according to the characteristics of the CPU or GPU under test, as well as any relevant optimizations or accelerators in the toolkit’s reference library. By setting the number of concurrent instances to a number greater than one, a tester can use multiple CPUs or GPUs to run multiple instances of a model at the same time, usually to increase throughput.

With multiple concurrent instances, a tester can leverage additional compute resources to potentially achieve higher throughput without sacrificing latency goals.

In the current version of AIXPRT, testers can run multiple concurrent instances in the OpenVINO, TensorFlow, and TensorRT toolkits. When AIXPRT Community Preview 3 becomes available, this option will extend to the MXNet toolkit. OpenVINO and TensorRT automatically allocate hardware for each instance and don’t let users make manual adjustments. TensorFlow and MXNet require users to manually bind instances to specific hardware. (Manual hardware allocation for multiple instances is more complicated than we can cover today, so we may devote a future blog entry to that topic.)

Setting the number of concurrent instances in AIXPRT

The screenshot below shows part of a sample config file (the same one we used when we discussed batch size and precision). The value in the “concurrent instances” row indicates how many concurrent instances will be operating during the test. In this example, the number is one. To change that value, a tester simply replaces it with the desired number and saves the changes.


If you have any questions or comments (about concurrent instances or anything else), please feel free to contact us.


Understanding AIXPRT results

Last week, we discussed the changes we made to the AIXPRT Community Preview 2 (CP2) download page as part of our ongoing effort to make AIXPRT easier to use. This week, we want to discuss the basics of understanding AIXPRT results by talking about the numbers that really matter and how to access and read the actual results files.

To understand AIXPRT results at a high level, it’s important to revisit the core purpose of the benchmark. AIXPRT’s bundled toolkits measure inference latency (the speed of image processing) and throughput (the number of images processed in a given time period) for image recognition (ResNet-50) and object detection (SSD-MobileNet v1) tasks. Testers have the option of adjusting variables such as batch size (the number of input samples to process simultaneously) to try and achieve higher levels of throughput, but higher throughput can come at the expense of increased latency per task. In real-time or near real-time use cases such as performing image recognition on individual photos being captured by a camera, lower latency is important because it improves the user experience. In other cases, such as performing image recognition on a large library of photos, achieving higher throughput might be preferable; designating larger batch sizes or running concurrent instances might allow the overall workload to complete more quickly.

The dynamics of these performance tradeoffs ensure that there is no single good score for all machine learning scenarios. Some testers might prefer lower latency, while others would sacrifice latency to achieve the higher level of throughput that their use case demands.

Testers can find latency and throughput numbers for each completed run in a JSON results file in the AIXPRT/Results folder. The test also generates CSV results files that are in the same folder. The raw results files report values for each AI task configuration (e.g., ResNet-50, Batch1, on CPU). Parsing and consolidating the raw data can take some time, so we’re developing a results file parsing tool to make the job much easier.

The results parsing tool is currently available in the AIXPRT CP2 OpenVINO – Windows package, and we hope to make it available for more packages soon. Using the tool is as simple as running a single command, and detailed instructions for how to do so are in the AIXPRT OpenVINO on Windows user guide. The tool produces a summary (example below) that makes it easier to quickly identify relevant comparison points such as maximum throughput and minimum latency.

AIXPRT results summary

In addition to the summary, the tool displays the throughput and latency results for each AI task configuration tested by the benchmark. AIXPRT runs each AI task multiple times and reports the average inference throughput and corresponding latency percentiles.

AIXPRT results details

We hope that this information helps to make it easier to understand AIXPRT results. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.


Navigating the AIXPRT Community Preview download page just got easier

AIXPRT Community Preview 2 (CP2) has been generating quite a bit of interest among the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community and members of the tech press. We’re excited that the tool has piqued curiosity and that folks are recognizing its value for technical analysis. When talking with folks about test setup and configuration, we keep hearing the same questions:

  • How do I find the exact toolkit or package that I need?
  • How do I find the instructions for a specific toolkit?
  • What test configuration variables are most important for producing consistent, relevant results?
  • How do I know which values to choose when configuring options such as iterations, concurrent instances, and batch size?

In the coming weeks, we’ll be working to provide detailed answers to questions about test configuration. In response to the confusion about finding specific packages and instructions, we’ve redesigned the CP2 download page to make it easier for you to find what you need. Below, we show a snapshot from the new CP2 download table. Instead of having to download the entire CP2 package that includes the OpenVINO, TensorFlow, and TensorRT in TensorFlow test packages, you can now download one package at a time. In the Documentation column, we’ve posted package-specific instructions, so you won’t have to wade through the entire installation guide to find the instructions you need.

AIXPRT Community Preview download table

We hope these changes make it easier for people to experiment with AIXPRT. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments you may have.


Making AIXPRT easier to use

We’re glad to see so much interest in the AIXPRT CP2 build. Over the past few days, we’ve received two questions about the setup process: 1) where to find instructions for setting up AIXPRT on Windows, and 2) whether we could make it easier to install Intel OpenVINO on test systems.

In response to the first question, testers can find the relevant instructions for each framework in the readme files included in the AIXPRT install package. Instructions for Windows installation are in section 3 of the OpenVINO and TensorFlow readmes. Please note that whether you’re running AIXPRT on Ubuntu or Windows, be sure to read the “Known Issues” section in the readme, as there may be issues relevant to your specific configuration.

The readme files for each respective framework in the CP2 package are located here:

  • AIXPRT_0.5_CP2\\AIXPRT\Modules\Deep-Learning
  • AIXPRT_0.5_CP2\\AIXPRT\Modules\Deep-Learning
  • AIXPRT_0.5_CP2\\AIXPRT\Modules\Deep-Learning

We’re also working on consolidating the instructions into a central document that will make it easier for everyone to find the instructions they need.

In response to the question about OpenVINO installation, we’re working on an AIXPRT CP2 package that includes a precompiled version of OpenVINO R5.0.1 for easy installation on Windows via a few quick commands, and a script that installs the necessary OpenVINO dependencies. We’re currently testing the build, and we’ll make it available to testers as soon as possible.

The tests themselves will not change, so the new build will not influence existing results from Ubuntu or Windows. We hope it will simply facilitate the setup and testing process for many users.

We appreciate each bit of feedback that we receive, so if you have any suggestions for AIXPRT, please let us know!


News on AIXPRT development


We want to hear your thoughts about the AIXPRT development schedule

We released the second AIXPRT Community Preview (CP2) about two weeks ago. The main additions in CP2 were the ability to run certain test configurations in Windows (OpenVINO CPU/GPU and TensorFlow CPU), the option to download the installer package from the AIXPRT tab in the XPRT Members’ Area, and a demo mode.

We’re also investigating ways to support TensorFlow GPU and TensorFlow-TensorRT testing in Windows, and we’d like to eventually add support for TensorRT testing in Ubuntu and Windows. If development and pre-release testing go as planned, we may roll out some of these extra features by the end of June. However, it’s possible that getting all the pieces that we want in place will require a multi-step release process. If so, we’re considering two approaches: (1) issuing a third community preview (CP3) and (2) preparing a general availability (GA) release, to which we would add features over the months following the release. Neither of these paths is likely to affect test results from the currently supported configurations.

Would you like to work with another community preview, or would it be better for us to move straight to a GA release and add features as they become ready? We want to follow the approach that the majority of community members prefer, so please let us know what you think. As always, we also welcome any questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding the AIXPRT development process.


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