Keywords: [ distributed training ] [ graph convolutional networks ] [ graph neural networks ]
Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs) is the state-of-the-art method for learning graph-structured data, and training large-scale GCNs requires distributed training across multiple accelerators such that each accelerator is able to hold a partitioned subgraph. However, distributed GCN training incurs prohibitive overhead of communicating node features and feature gradients among partitions for every GCN layer during each training iteration, limiting the achievable training efficiency and model scalability. To this end, we propose PipeGCN, a simple yet effective scheme that hides the communication overhead by pipelining inter-partition communication with intra-partition computation. It is non-trivial to pipeline for efficient GCN training, as communicated node features/gradients will become stale and thus can harm the convergence, negating the pipeline benefit. Notably, little is known regarding the convergence rate of GCN training with both stale features and stale feature gradients. This work not only provides a theoretical convergence analysis but also finds the convergence rate of PipeGCN to be close to that of the vanilla distributed GCN training without any staleness. Furthermore, we develop a smoothing method to further improve PipeGCN's convergence. Extensive experiments show that PipeGCN can largely boost the training throughput (1.7×~28.5×) while achieving the same accuracy as its vanilla counterpart and existing full-graph training methods. The code is available at https://github.com/RICE-EIC/PipeGCN.