Accelerate documentation

Fully Sharded Data Parallel

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Fully Sharded Data Parallel

To accelerate training huge models on larger batch sizes, we can use a fully sharded data parallel model. This type of data parallel paradigm enables fitting more data and larger models by sharding the optimizer states, gradients and parameters. To read more about it and the benefits, check out the Fully Sharded Data Parallel blog. We have integrated the latest PyTorch’s Fully Sharded Data Parallel (FSDP) training feature. All you need to do is enable it through the config.

How it works out of the box

On your machine(s) just run:

accelerate config

and answer the questions asked. This will generate a config file that will be used automatically to properly set the default options when doing

accelerate launch --args_to_my_script

For instance, here is how you would run examples/ (from the root of the repo) with FSDP enabled:

compute_environment: LOCAL_MACHINE
debug: false
distributed_type: FSDP
downcast_bf16: 'no'
  fsdp_auto_wrap_policy: TRANSFORMER_BASED_WRAP
  fsdp_backward_prefetch_policy: BACKWARD_PRE
  fsdp_forward_prefetch: false
  fsdp_cpu_ram_efficient_loading: true
  fsdp_offload_params: false
  fsdp_sharding_strategy: FULL_SHARD
  fsdp_state_dict_type: SHARDED_STATE_DICT
  fsdp_sync_module_states: true
  fsdp_transformer_layer_cls_to_wrap: BertLayer
  fsdp_use_orig_params: true
machine_rank: 0
main_training_function: main
mixed_precision: bf16
num_machines: 1
num_processes: 2
rdzv_backend: static
same_network: true
tpu_env: []
tpu_use_cluster: false
tpu_use_sudo: false
use_cpu: false
accelerate launch examples/

Currently, Accelerate supports the following config through the CLI:

fsdp_sharding_strategy: [1] FULL_SHARD (shards optimizer states, gradients and parameters), [2] SHARD_GRAD_OP (shards optimizer states and gradients), [3] NO_SHARD (DDP), [4] HYBRID_SHARD (shards optimizer states, gradients and parameters within each node while each node has full copy), [5] HYBRID_SHARD_ZERO2 (shards optimizer states and gradients within each node while each node has full copy). For more information, please refer the official PyTorch docs.

fsdp_offload_params : Decides Whether to offload parameters and gradients to CPU

fsdp_auto_wrap_policy: [1] TRANSFORMER_BASED_WRAP, [2] SIZE_BASED_WRAP, [3] NO_WRAP

fsdp_transformer_layer_cls_to_wrap: Only applicable for 🤗 Transformers. When using fsdp_auto_wrap_policy=TRANSFORMER_BASED_WRAP, a user may provide a comma-separated string of transformer layer class names (case-sensitive) to wrap, e.g., BertLayer, GPTJBlock, T5Block, BertLayer,BertEmbeddings,BertSelfOutput. This is important because submodules that share weights (e.g., embedding layers) should not end up in different FSDP wrapped units. Using this policy, wrapping happens for each block containing Multi-Head Attention followed by a couple of MLP layers. Remaining layers including the shared embeddings are conveniently wrapped in same outermost FSDP unit. Therefore, use this for transformer-based models. You can use the model._no_split_modules for 🤗 Transformer models by answering yes to Do you want to use the model's _no_split_modulesto wrap. It will try to usemodel._no_split_modules` when possible.

fsdp_min_num_params: minimum number of parameters when using fsdp_auto_wrap_policy=SIZE_BASED_WRAP.

fsdp_backward_prefetch_policy: [1] BACKWARD_PRE, [2] BACKWARD_POST, [3] NO_PREFETCH

fsdp_forward_prefetch: if True, then FSDP explicitly prefetches the next upcoming all-gather while executing in the forward pass. Should only be used for static-graph models since the prefetching follows the first iteration’s execution order. i.e., if the sub-modules’ order changes dynamically during the model’s execution do not enable this feature.

fsdp_state_dict_type: [1] FULL_STATE_DICT, [2] LOCAL_STATE_DICT, [3] SHARDED_STATE_DICT

fsdp_use_orig_params: If True, allows non-uniform requires_grad during init, which means support for interspersed frozen and trainable parameters. This setting is useful in cases such as parameter-efficient fine-tuning as discussed in this post. This option also allows one to have multiple optimizer param groups. This should be True when creating an optimizer before preparing/wrapping the model with FSDP.

fsdp_cpu_ram_efficient_loading: Only applicable for 🤗 Transformers models. If True, only the first process loads the pretrained model checkpoint while all other processes have empty weights. This should be set to False if you experience errors when loading the pretrained 🤗 Transformers model via from_pretrained method. When this setting is True fsdp_sync_module_states also must to be True, otherwise all the processes except the main process would have random weights leading to unexpected behaviour during training. For this to work, make sure the distributed process group is initialized before calling Transformers from_pretrained method. When using 🤗 Trainer API, the distributed process group is initialized when you create an instance of TrainingArguments class.

fsdp_sync_module_states: If True, each individually wrapped FSDP unit will broadcast module parameters from rank 0.

For additional and more nuanced control, you can specify other FSDP parameters via FullyShardedDataParallelPlugin. When creating FullyShardedDataParallelPlugin object, pass it the parameters that weren’t part of the accelerate config or if you want to override them. The FSDP parameters will be picked based on the accelerate config file or launch command arguments and other parameters that you will pass directly through the FullyShardedDataParallelPlugin object will set/override that.

Below is an example:

from accelerate import FullyShardedDataParallelPlugin
from torch.distributed.fsdp.fully_sharded_data_parallel import FullOptimStateDictConfig, FullStateDictConfig

fsdp_plugin = FullyShardedDataParallelPlugin(
    state_dict_config=FullStateDictConfig(offload_to_cpu=False, rank0_only=False),
    optim_state_dict_config=FullOptimStateDictConfig(offload_to_cpu=False, rank0_only=False),

accelerator = Accelerator(fsdp_plugin=fsdp_plugin)

Saving and loading

The new recommended way of checkpointing when using FSDP models is to use SHARDED_STATE_DICT as StateDictType when setting up the accelerate config. Below is the code snippet to save using save_state utility of accelerate.


Inspect the checkpoint folder to see model and optimizer as shards per process:

ls ckpt
# optimizer_0  pytorch_model_0  random_states_0.pkl  random_states_1.pkl  scheduler.bin

cd ckpt

ls optimizer_0
# __0_0.distcp  __1_0.distcp

ls pytorch_model_0
# __0_0.distcp  __1_0.distcp

To load them back for resuming the training, use the load_state utility of accelerate


When using transformers save_pretrained, pass state_dict=accelerator.get_state_dict(model) to save the model state dict. Below is an example:

+     state_dict=accelerator.get_state_dict(model),

State Dict

accelerator.get_state_dict will call the underlying model.state_dict implementation using FullStateDictConfig(offload_to_cpu=True, rank0_only=True) context manager to get the state dict only for rank 0 and it will be offloaded to CPU.

You can then pass state into the save_pretrained method. There are several modes for StateDictType and FullStateDictConfig that you can use to control the behavior of state_dict. For more information, see the PyTorch documentation.

Mapping between FSDP sharding strategies and DeepSpeed ZeRO Stages

  • FULL_SHARD maps to the DeepSpeed ZeRO Stage-3. Shards optimizer states, gradients and parameters.
  • SHARD_GRAD_OP maps to the DeepSpeed ZeRO Stage-2. Shards optimizer states and gradients.
  • NO_SHARD maps to ZeRO Stage-0. No sharding wherein each GPU has full copy of model, optimizer states and gradients.
  • HYBRID_SHARD maps to ZeRO++ Stage-3 wherein zero_hpz_partition_size=<num_gpus_per_node>. Here, this will shard optimizer states, gradients and parameters within each node while each node has full copy.

A few caveats to be aware of

  • In case of multiple models, pass the optimizers to the prepare call in the same order as corresponding models else accelerator.save_state() and accelerator.load_state() will result in wrong/unexpected behaviour.
  • This feature is incompatible with --predict_with_generate in the script of 🤗 Transformers library.

For more control, users can leverage the FullyShardedDataParallelPlugin. After creating an instance of this class, users can pass it to the Accelerator class instantiation. For more information on these options, please refer to the PyTorch FullyShardedDataParallel code.