Authors: 

Gyeong-In Yu and Joo Seong Jeong, Seoul National University; Geon-Woo Kim, FriendliAI and Seoul National University; Soojeong Kim, FriendliAI; Byung-Gon Chun, FriendliAI and Seoul National University

Abstract: 

Large-scale Transformer-based models trained for generation tasks (e.g., GPT-3) have recently attracted huge interest, emphasizing the need for system support for serving models in this family. Since these models generate a next token in an autoregressive manner, one has to run the model multiple times to process an inference request where each iteration of the model generates a single output token for the request. However, existing systems for inference serving do not perform well on this type of workload that has a multi-iteration characteristic, due to their inflexible scheduling mechanism that
cannot change the current batch of requests being processed; requests that have finished earlier than other requests in a batch cannot return to the client, while newly arrived requests have to wait until the current batch completely finishes.

In this paper, we propose iteration-level scheduling, a new scheduling mechanism that schedules execution at the granularity of iteration (instead of request) where the scheduler invokes the execution engine to run only a single iteration of the model on the batch. In addition, to apply batching and
iteration-level scheduling to a Transformer model at the same time, we suggest selective batching, which applies batching only to a selected set of operations. Based on these two techniques, we have implemented a distributed serving system called ORCA, with additional designs for scalability to models with hundreds of billions of parameters. Our evaluation on a GPT-3 175B model shows that ORCA can significantly outperform NVIDIA FasterTransformer in terms of both latency and throughput: 36:9× throughput improvement at the same level of latency.

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