Training neural network with 4 GPUs using pyTorch, performance is not even 2 times (btw 1 & 2 times) compare to using one GPU. From Nvidia-smi we see GPU usage is for few milliseconds and next 5-10 seconds looks like data is off-loaded and loaded for new executions (mostly GPU usage is 0%). Is there any way in pyTorch to improve the data upload and offload for the GPU execution.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Using parallel resources optimally is a hard problem even knowing the data flow. You don't give nearly enough information for someone to help with your specific problem, and the general issue is far too broad to answer in this format. Please explain more about the nature of your project, and the data pipelines. Also, as it is a practical matter in a specific library, consider asking in Data Science SE instead, if this work is for a standard ML supervised learning problem. Read their help section to see what makes things on topic there, but you will definitely need to give project details. $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2019 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


Your dataset class probably have a lot of preprocessing code. You should use a dataloader. It will prefetch data from the dataset when the GPU is processing. Also, you can process all the data beforehand and save to a file. Multiple GPU cannot scale as the GPU have to get all data to one GPU to calculate the loss. The performance of 4 GPU is around 3.5x. A large batch size also would help as each GPU will have 1/4 the batch size. a batch size of 64-128 is good for 4 GPU. See the following example code fro CIFAR-10 for multi gpu code. It have dataloaders and dataparallel.

import os
import time
import datetime

import torch
import torch.nn as nn
import torch.optim as optim
from torch.optim import lr_scheduler
import torch.backends.cudnn as cudnn

import torchvision
import torchvision.transforms as transforms
from torchvision.datasets import CIFAR10
from torch.utils.data import DataLoader

from model import pyramidnet
import argparse
from tensorboardX import SummaryWriter

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description='cifar10 classification models')
parser.add_argument('--lr', default=0.1, help='')
parser.add_argument('--resume', default=None, help='')
parser.add_argument('--batch_size', type=int, default=768, help='')
parser.add_argument('--num_worker', type=int, default=4, help='')
parser.add_argument("--gpu_devices", type=int, nargs='+', default=None, help="")
args = parser.parse_args()

gpu_devices = ','.join([str(id) for id in args.gpu_devices])
os.environ["CUDA_VISIBLE_DEVICES"] = gpu_devices

def main():
    best_acc = 0

    device = 'cuda' if torch.cuda.is_available() else 'cpu'

    print('==> Preparing data..')
    transforms_train = transforms.Compose([
        transforms.RandomCrop(32, padding=4),
        transforms.Normalize((0.4914, 0.4822, 0.4465), (0.2023, 0.1994, 0.2010))])

    dataset_train = CIFAR10(root='../data', train=True, download=True, 

    train_loader = DataLoader(dataset_train, batch_size=args.batch_size, 
                              shuffle=True, num_workers=args.num_worker)

    # there are 10 classes so the dataset name is cifar-10
    classes = ('plane', 'car', 'bird', 'cat', 'deer', 
               'dog', 'frog', 'horse', 'ship', 'truck')

    print('==> Making model..')

    net = pyramidnet()
    net = nn.DataParallel(net)
    net = net.to(device)
    num_params = sum(p.numel() for p in net.parameters() if p.requires_grad)
    print('The number of parameters of model is', num_params)

    criterion = nn.CrossEntropyLoss()
    optimizer = optim.Adam(net.parameters(), lr=args.lr)
    # optimizer = optim.SGD(net.parameters(), lr=args.lr, 
    #                       momentum=0.9, weight_decay=1e-4)

    train(net, criterion, optimizer, train_loader, device)

def train(net, criterion, optimizer, train_loader, device):

    train_loss = 0
    correct = 0
    total = 0

    epoch_start = time.time()
    for batch_idx, (inputs, targets) in enumerate(train_loader):
        start = time.time()

        inputs = inputs.to(device)
        targets = targets.to(device)
        outputs = net(inputs)
        loss = criterion(outputs, targets)


        train_loss += loss.item()
        _, predicted = outputs.max(1)
        total += targets.size(0)
        correct += predicted.eq(targets).sum().item()

        acc = 100 * correct / total

        batch_time = time.time() - start

        if batch_idx % 20 == 0:
            print('Epoch: [{}/{}]| loss: {:.3f} | acc: {:.3f} | batch time: {:.3f}s '.format(
                batch_idx, len(train_loader), train_loss/(batch_idx+1), acc, batch_time))

    elapse_time = time.time() - epoch_start
    elapse_time = datetime.timedelta(seconds=elapse_time)
    print("Training time {}".format(elapse_time))

if __name__=='__main__':

Source: https://github.com/dnddnjs/pytorch-multigpu/blob/master/data_parallel/train.py

Hope I can help you and have a nice day!


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