Using an AMD GPU in Keras

A while ago my research lab acquired a new workstation, but my PI, well meaning as he is, purchased a system with an AMD GPU (FirePro W7100) rather than an Nvidia card, so CUDA is not an option. For the longest time I thought deep learning was not going to happen with TensorFlow using an OpenCV library, but I recently stumbled on a library PlaidML, a tensor compiler that allows for the use of OpenCL devices, and sits as a layer underneath common machine learning frameworks. I use an Arch based distro (Manjaro) so this guide is specific to Arch, but it’s likely that this process is not too different for other distros.

First check what GPU you have installed on your system.

lspci | grep VGA

And you should see output something like:

03:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Tonga PRO GL 
[FirePro W7100]                                                                       

Now make sure you have a graphics driver installed:

glxinfo | grep -i vendor

which yields:

server glx vendor string: SGI
client glx vendor string: Mesa Project and SGI
   Vendor: X.Org (0x1002)
OpenGL vendor string: X.Org

In my case I am using the AMD Mesa open driver rather than the proprietary AMD Pro driver.

Now I need to install the OpenCL library. I used the proprietary library from the AMD pro driver which you can install, without installing the full driver, using:

yaourt -S opencl-amd

To make sure that got installed you can use clinfo, after installing it of course:

sudo pacman -S clinfo

If you get Number of Platforms 0 you have done something wrong. If you get a long list of details that include the Device Board Name (AMD) with the name of your GPU, in my case AMD FirePro W7100, then you should be good to move onto the next step and install the PlaidML library!

PlaidML is a Python library which I recommend installing in a virtual environment as that is just good practice, but its up to you. To install:

pip install plaidml-keras plaidbench

Then choose the accelerator you would like to use (most likely the AMD GPU you have configured). PlaidML will offer a series of numbered devices after running the following command, select the one corresponding to the GPU you would like to use.


Now you should be good to go! The next time you build/run a model in Keras import PlaidML first.

import os
os.environ["KERAS_BACKEND"] = "plaidml.keras.backend"
import keras
Peter Lawson
NSF Fellow and PhD Candidate in Bioinnovation

My current research involves applying topological data analysis to gain insights into topological differences in cancer morphology at the histological level and their importance in diagnosis and prognosis.