Toward Fast and Accurate Neural Networks for Image Recognition

Posted by Mingxing Tan and Zihang Dai, Research Scientists, Google Research

As neural network models and training data size grow, training efficiency is becoming an important focus for deep learning. For example, GPT-3 demonstrates remarkable capability in few-shot learning, but it requires weeks of training with thousands of GPUs, making it difficult to retrain or improve. What if, instead, one could design neural networks that were smaller and faster, yet still more accurate?

In this post, we introduce two families of models for image recognition that leverage neural architecture search, and a principled design methodology based on model capacity and generalization. The first is EfficientNetV2 (accepted at ICML 2021), which consists of convolutional neural networks that aim for fast training speed for relatively small-scale datasets, such as ImageNet1k (with 1.28 million images). The second family is CoAtNet, which are hybrid models that combine convolution and self-attention, with the goal of achieving higher accuracy on large-scale datasets, such as ImageNet21 (with 13 million images) and JFT (with billions of images). Compared to previous results, our models are 4-10x faster while achieving new state-of-the-art 90.88% top-1 accuracy on the well-established ImageNet dataset. We are also releasing the source code and pretrained models on the Google AutoML github.

EfficientNetV2: Smaller Models and Faster Training
EfficientNetV2 is based upon the previous EfficientNet architecture. To improve upon the original, we systematically studied the training speed bottlenecks on modern TPUs/GPUs and found: (1) training with very large image sizes results in higher memory usage and thus is often slower on TPUs/GPUs; (2) the widely used depthwise convolutions are inefficient on TPUs/GPUs, because they exhibit low hardware utilization; and (3) the commonly used uniform compound scaling approach, which scales up every stage of convolutional networks equally, is sub-optimal. To address these issues, we propose both a training-aware neural architecture search (NAS), in which the training speed is included in the

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