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PyTorch-LIT is the Lite Inference Toolkit (LIT) for PyTorch which focuses on easy and fast inference of large models on end-devices.

With the rapid growth of deep learning research, models are becoming increasingly complex in terms of parameters and complexity, making it difficult to run the models on currently available end devices. For example, GPT-J with 6B parameters only needs 24 GB of RAM in full-precision mode to be ready for execution, which may be impossible in most systems; even a powerful GPU like the RTX 2060 with 6 GB of memory can’t even contain GPT-J in half-precision mode, making direct inference impossible.

To address this issue when training large models, libraries such as DeepSpeed use offload techniques (e.g., ZeRO) to handle the parameters and make training possible by dividing the weights between devices. In contrast, there is no direct library/framework available for inference.

PyTorch-LIT allows the inference of large models by loading weights as needed from secondary specified memory, which could be disk, CPU, or GPU, allowing the inference of models that do not even fit in the system’s main memory simply by trading off time.

Quick Start

  1. Install the library

pip install pytorch-lit
  1. You have to save the model’s weight in a way that toolkit can use

from pytorch_lit.export import prepare_params

weights = {} # your model's parameters (state_dict)
# change the directory to save your model and specify data-type
prepare_params(weights, ".models/my-model", dtype="float32")
  1. After preparing the weights, you can infer your model

from pytorch_lit import LitModule

# pass your model construction as a closure, 
# specify weights path and inference device 
model = LitModule.from_params(".models/my-model",
                                  lambda: MyModel(),
result = model(*arg, **kwargs)
  1. Have fun enjoying the inference of the large model on a lower memory device:)


The repo’s examples directory contains examples. There are currently two examples of GPT-J, one for text generation and the other for extracting hidden states as feature representations.


This is a work in progress that will require further development before it can be considered a stable inference toolkit. Here is a list of potential future developments:

  • Caching and batch loading as many weights as memory allows, with weights being replaced in parallel with future ones (through the order of the execution graph)
  • C++ extension for PyTorch jit, so the solution applies to the majority of production end devices
  • Add functions to make it easier to export large models to onnx or trace with jit
  • Use better and faster format than numpy memmap

Contributions are welcome; to discuss your idea further, open an issue with the discussion tag. Finally, you can submit a pull request to merge your fork.

How does it work?

This implementation was made possible primarily by two ideas:

  • The first issue was that PyTorch initialized the model object’s parameters when constructing it, causing the construction to fail when the model couldn’t fit into memory. To address this, we proposed temporarily hijacking PyTorch’s Parameter class’s __new__ method during model construction, allowing us to replace the parameter’s tensor with a view from a shared global tensor immediately after creation. By doing so, all parameters use the same shared big tensor as their primary storage, allowing the model to be built and tested with inputs to follow and trace the execution graph.
  • The second issue was the large size of model parameters; in the preparation step, we built a numpy memmap(np.memmap) and saved metadata that provided us with the location of each key in the memmap. This allowed us to read parameters from the memmap as needed. Following that, we use the PyTorch hooks (forward and pre_forward) to load and unload a module’s parameters before and after execution.


Please cite PyTorch-LIT if it helps your research. You can use the following BibTeX entry:

	title = {PyTorch-LIT},
	author = {Rezaei, Amin},
	howpublished = {\url{}},
	year = {2021}


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