Self-Selected Attention Span for Accelerating Large Language Model Inference

Tian Jin, Wanzin Yazar, Zifei Xu, Sayeh Sharify,Xin Wang


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Large language models (LLMs) can solve challenging tasks. However, their inference computation on modern GPUs is highly inefficient due to the increasing number of tokens they must attend to as they generate new ones. To address this inefficiency, we capitalize on LLMs' problem-solving capabilities to optimize their own inference-time efficiency. We demonstrate with two specific tasks: (a) evaluating complex arithmetic expressions and (b) summarizing news articles. For both tasks, we create custom datasets to fine-tune an LLM. The goal of fine-tuning is twofold: first, to make the LLM learn to solve the evaluation or summarization task, and second, to train it to identify the minimal attention spans required for each step of the task. As a result, the fine-tuned model is able to convert these self-identified minimal attention spans into sparse attention masks on-the-fly during inference. We develop a custom CUDA kernel to take advantage of the reduced context to attend to. We demonstrate that using this custom CUDA kernel improves the throughput of LLM inference by 28 that training LLMs to self-select their attention spans speeds up autoregressive inference in solving real-world tasks.
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