I-BERT: Integer-only BERT Quantization

01/05/2021 ∙ by Sehoon Kim, et al. ∙ 0

Transformer based models, like BERT and RoBERTa, have achieved state-of-the-art results in many Natural Language Processing tasks. However, their memory footprint, inference latency, and power consumption are prohibitive for many edge processors, and it has been a challenge to deploy these models for edge applications and devices that have resource constraints. While quantization can be a viable solution to this, previous work on quantizing Transformer based models uses floating-point arithmetic during inference, thus limiting model deployment on many edge processors. In this work, we propose a novel integer-only quantization scheme for Transformer based models that quantizes the entire inference process. In particular, we demonstrate how to approximate nonlinear operations in Transformer architectures, e.g., GELU, Softmax, and Layer Normalization, with lightweight integer computations. We use those approximations in our method, I-BERT, with an end-to-end integer-only inference, and without any floating point calculation. We test our approach on GLUE downstream tasks using RoBERTa-Base and RoBERTa-Large. For both cases, with an 8-bit integer-only quantization scheme, I-BERT achieves similar accuracy as compared to the full-precision baseline.

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