Aug. 27, 2019, midnight
By : Eric A. Scuccimarra
It is difficult to play around with the structure for the GAN I am working on in Colab since it trains so slowly. I can usually get maybe 2 or 3 epochs in a day, which means that I need to wait a day before evaluating each change I make. I decided to rent a GPU in the cloud for a few days so I could train it a bit more quickly and figure out what works and what doesn't work before going back to Colab.
I already have a Google Cloud GPU instance I was using for my work with mammography, but it was running CUDA 9.0 which apparently is not supported by PyTorch out of the box. I tried to upgrade CUDA to 10, but I think I ended up just making things worse. Rather than spend a whole day trying to fix the GCS instance, and since I have some AWS credits, I decided to try to use an AWS Deep Learning AMI instance, which already has everything configured.
It was incredibly easy to get set up, it comes pre-configured with virtual environments for different deep learning frameworks and packages, so there is no need to install CUDA or drivers or anything like that, which is a huge advantage, since back when I was setting up the GCS instance it took me a few days to get everything installed and working. One thing I quickly noticed was that the default disk size was not even close to big enough - after downloading a few data files I was already running out of disk space, but it was very easy to increase the disk size.
Then all I had to do was activate the pytorch environment, launch a notebook and everything was running smoothly. I did run into a few minor issues, none of which were difficult to resolve:
I used to prefer GCS to AWS because it was more configurable and easier to use. While AWS does have a bit of a learning curve, they really have thought of and provided for just about every possible contingency. We use AWS at my work, and it really is very impressive. I still like the simplicity of GCS, but even simple things like AMIs make such a huge difference in set-up time that I think I'll be using AWS more often now.
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