SplitRPC: A Control + Data Path Splitting RPC Stack for ML Inference Serving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growing adoption of hardware accelerators driven by their intelligent compiler and runtime system counterparts has democratized ML services and precipitously reduced their execution times. This motivates us to shift our attention to efficiently serve these ML services under distributed settings and characterize the overheads imposed by the RPC mechanism ('RPC tax') when serving them on accelerators. The RPC implementations designed over the years implicitly assume the host CPU services the requests, and we focus on expanding such works towards accelerator-based services. While recent proposals calling for SmartNICs to take on this task are reasonable for simple kernels, serving complex ML models requires a more nuanced view to optimize both the data-path and the control/orchestration of these accelerators. We program today's commodity network interface cards (NICs) to split the control and data paths for effective transfer of control while efficiently transferring the payload to the accelerator. As opposed to unified approaches that bundle these paths together, limiting the flexibility in each of these paths, we design and implement SplitRPC - a control + data path optimizing RPC mechanism for ML inference serving. SplitRPC allows us to optimize the datapath to the accelerator while simultaneously allowing the CPU to maintain full orchestration capabilities. We implement SplitRPC on both commodity NICs and SmartNICs and demonstrate how GPU-based ML services running different compiler/runtime systems can benefit. For a variety of ML models served using different inference runtimes, we demonstrate that SplitRPC is effective in minimizing the RPC tax while providing significant gains in throughput and latency over existing kernel by-pass approaches, without requiring expensive SmartNIC devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Measurement and Analysis of Computing Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 22 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications

Cite this