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Benchmarking Tensorflow Performance on eGPU

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In the last post, I wrote about how to setup an eGPU on Ubuntu to get started with TensorFlow. I shortly mentioned that a eGPU is definitely worth it for Machine Learning, but I did not tell any numbers. This article tries to catch up on that. There are a gazillion benchmarks already out there about GPU gaming performance. A handful of them also include eGPU benchmarks, like this one for example. One important thing that that these eGPU benchmarks show is that the use of an external display is from benefit, because otherwise the Thunderbolt 3 port becomes a bigger bottleneck. This is due to the fact that each rendered frame has be sent back to the internal display, which consumes valuable bandwidth of the 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 connection. However, there is no alternative for using an eGPU for Machine Learning, because the computed gradients have to be sent back to the CPU.
Talking about Machine Learning, there are a few articles our official benchmarks about TensorFlow performance av…

How to setup an eGPU on Ubuntu for TensorFlow

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I remember when I read about eGPUs for the first time. The symbiosis of having a light weight laptop at university or on the go, but still having a desktop like power horse when having some spare-time at home sounded like a dream. But everything faded into obscurity because I almost lost full interest into gaming the last years.

But this changed, since I'm spending a lot of time in deep learning since about two years. And it's well known that taking advantage of a GPU boosts training time by a huge margin. That's why I tried to get access to a high-performance graphics card in order to be able to train non-trivial networks and so some more serious research.

At first, I had a look at some offers in the cloud. I did not try out a GPU-enabled instance on AWS, because the use a billing based on a hourly rate. This means that you have to pay for a full hour, even when you just run a simple example for 1 minute. Next, I checkout out the 300$ free credit on Google compute engine.…