LLaMA 2: The New Open Source Language Model

August 7, 2023


Language models have revolutionized the field of artificial intelligence, by enabling machines to understand and generate human-like text. Among the plethora of language models, LLaMA (Large Language Models AI) stands out as the latest groundbreaking collection of foundation language models ranging from 7B to 65B parameters[1]. Developed by a team of researchers from Meta, Llama takes a unique approach by training models on trillions of publicly available tokens, making it accessible for a broader audience. 

Meta released its updated version, Llama 2, with the range increased to 70B. This technical blog delves into the details of Llama 2, its architecture, training methods, and the potential it holds for various applications.

Language models have captured the public's imagination with their ability to perform new tasks with some basic prompts. As the technology advances, researchers have been exploring ways to scale these models further, with the belief that more parameters lead to better performance. However, recent work has challenged this notion, highlighting the importance of training on more data instead of merely increasing model size. Llama 2 solves this and tries to achieve the best possible performance by using publicly available datasets exclusively[2].


Understanding Llama 2

Llama 2 represents a significant milestone in the field of artificial intelligence.

2.1 Origins and Development

As part of Meta's commitment to open science, Llama was introduced to the public as a foundational large language model. The development of Llama aimed to address the challenges associated with full research access to large language models due to the immense computing power and resources required to train and run them.

The team at Meta successfully trained Llama and its updated version, Llama 2, on trillions of tokens, demonstrating that it is possible to achieve remarkable performance using publicly available datasets exclusively, without relying on proprietary and inaccessible data sources. This makes Llama unique among many existing large language models that depend on non-public data.

2.2 Range of Llama Models

Llama 2 is available in a collection of foundation language models, varying in the number of parameters. The different sizes of Llama models cater to various use cases and inference budgets, making them versatile tools for researchers, developers, and businesses alike. The available Llama models range from 7B to 70B parameters, each demonstrating competitive performance compared to other state-of-the-art large language models [3]. The models in the Llama and Llama 2 collection include:

2.3 Performance and Scalability

Llama 2’s performance and scalability are two of its main advantages. By training on more tokens than traditional approaches, Llama 2 models show the potential to achieve the best results without compromising on efficiency. Llama 2 models can also run on a single GPU, and does not require a large computing infrastructure. Hence, this makes it easier for researchers who may not have access to such costly hardware.

2.4 Access to Large Language Models

Meta aims to provide access to large language models for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. Meta's goal is to help academics who may not have access to extensive computer resources analyze and explore the capabilities of large language models by offering access to Llama models that may be run on a single GPU. It is available for free for personal and commercial use, which can be accessed here.

3. Key Advantages of Llama 2

Llama 2 offers several significant advantages over other language models, making it a compelling option for researchers and developers. Although Llama 1 was effective, it still lacked in fine-tuning and pre-training. The updated version, Llama 2, is a comprehensive solution which improves upon the previous architecture. Furthermore, Meta has formed collaborations with AWS, Hugging Face, Databricks, and Microsoft's Azure. These advantages include:

Superior Performance with Smaller Parameters: Llama 2 models have demonstrated impressive performance despite having smaller parameters compared to some of the largest language models. 

Accessible to a Broader Audience: Llama 2's commitment to enabling access and usage on a single GPU opens up opportunities for researchers and developers who may not have access to extensive computing infrastructure. This accessibility fosters a more inclusive research environment, allowing a broader audience to explore and experiment with large language models.

Open-Source and Transparent: Unlike some existing language models that rely on proprietary datasets, Llama 2's approach is based on using publicly available data. This open-source nature encourages transparency and collaboration in the AI research community. Researchers can stress-test the models, identify potential issues, and contribute to their improvement, promoting responsible development and usage.

Versatility and Scalability: Llama 2 comes in various versions, ranging from 7B to 70B parameters, catering to different needs and computational capabilities. Whether it's small-scale projects or large-scale deployments, Llama's models offer versatility and scalability to accommodate a wide range of applications.

Continuous Improvement: Meta's commitment to further research and development of large language models is evident from their ongoing efforts to release larger models trained on larger pretraining corpora in the future. This continuous improvement ensures that Llama 2 remains at the forefront of language model capabilities.

4. The Training Approach

Llama 2's training approach is a crucial aspect of its success, enabling the models to achieve state-of-the-art performance while using publicly available data. Let us delve into the key components of Llama's training approach:

Pre-Training Data: Llama 2 uses a mixture of several publicly available data sources for pre-training its language models. These sources include English CommonCrawl, C4 dataset, GitHub repositories, Wikipedia dumps, Gutenberg and Books3 corpora, arXiv scientific data, and Stack Exchange. The diverse nature of these datasets ensures that Llama learns from a wide variety of domains, enhancing its ability to perform well across different tasks [3]. Llama 2 offers 2 trillion pre-trained tokens.

Tokenization: Before training, the raw text data is tokenized using the byte-pair encoding (BPE) algorithm. Llama 2’s tokenization process includes splitting all numbers into individual digits and using bytes to decompose unknown UTF-8 characters. This tokenization technique optimizes the data representation for the models, making it easier to process and learn from the vast amount of textual data [3].

Optimizer and Hyperparameters: Llama 2 models are trained using the AdamW optimizer with specific hyperparameters. The learning rate schedule follows a cosine decay, with a weight decay of 0.1 and gradient clipping of 1.0. The models use a warmup strategy of 2,000 steps to stabilize training, and the learning rate and batch size vary according to the model size [3].

Efficient Implementation: To enhance training speed and reduce memory usage, Llama 2 employs an efficient implementation of the causal multi-head attention operator, inspired by recent research. The implementation optimizes memory consumption and computation, particularly by avoiding storing attention weights and computing masked key / query scores. Additionally, Llama uses checkpointing to minimize the amount of activations recomputed during the backward pass, further improving training efficiency.

5. Llama 2's Architecture

Llama 2’s architecture is a key factor in its remarkable performance. In this section, the unique modifications made to the transformer model, which contribute to the model’s efficiency and effectiveness in language processing tasks, are discussed.

5.1 Transformer Model

At the core of Llama 2’s architecture lies the transformer model, which has proven to be highly successful in natural language processing (NLP) tasks. The transformer model relies on self-attention mechanisms to capture dependencies and relationships between words in a sentence, allowing it to process long-range dependencies more effectively compared to traditional sequential models.

5.2 Pre-Normalization

One of the notable modifications in Llama 2's architecture is the use of pre-normalization. The input of every transformer sub layer is normalized individually instead of the output. The normalizing function used here is RMSNorm [4]. The pre-normalization approach has been shown to improve training stability and convergence in large language models. It ensures that the inputs to each transformer sub-layer are normalized, helping to mitigate issues such as vanishing and exploding gradients during training.

5.3 SwiGLU Activation Function

Llama 2 further improves upon the standard transformer model by introducing the SwiGLU activation function. SwiGLU stands for ‘Swish Gated Linear Unit’ and is a non-linearity function that replaces the commonly used Rectified Linear Unit (ReLU) [5]. SwiGLU activation function has been demonstrated to enhance the performance of language models. It combines the benefits of Swish and Gated Linear Units, providing a smooth, continuous activation function that introduces non-linearity while avoiding the vanishing gradient problem.

5.4 Rotary Positional Embeddings

To address positional information in the transformer model, Llama 2 adopts rotary positional embeddings (RoPE), instead of using absolute positional embeddings  [6]. RoPE is based on the insight that relative angles between word positions can be represented effectively using sine and cosine functions. This approach reduces the computational cost of positional embeddings while still capturing crucial positional information in the language model.

5.5 Optimized Performance

The Llama 2 model is efficient and effective because of its architecture. This architecture combines pre-normalization, the SwiGLU activation function, and rotary positional embeddings. Llama 2's processing capabilities are superior since these elements are combined, and it has a better understanding of language patterns.

6. Optimizer and Efficient Implementation

The success of the Llama model has resulted in its updated version Llama 2. The predecessor’s success is not only attributed to their unique architecture but also to the careful selection of optimizers and efficient implementation techniques. In this section, the optimizer used for training Llama 2’s models is discussed and the implementation strategies that contribute to faster and more resource-efficient training are discussed.

6.1 AdamW Optimizer

The Llama 2 model uses the AdamW optimizer, an extension of the popular Adam optimizer, which incorporates weight decay as a means to prevent overfitting during training. Weight decay involves adding a regularization term to the loss function, penalizing large weights in the model, thus promoting more robust generalization. The AdamW optimizer dynamically adapts the learning rate for each parameter, allowing for faster convergence during training. This adaptive learning rate scheme, coupled with weight decay, enhances the stability and convergence of Llama 2 models, making them more effective in handling large-scale language processing tasks.

6.2 Cosine Learning Rate Schedule

To further optimize the training process, Llama 2 models adopt a cosine learning rate schedule. Unlike traditional learning rate schedules, which decrease the learning rate linearly over time, the cosine learning rate schedule gradually decreases the learning rate using a cosine function. This approach has been shown to yield better results during training, allowing the model to converge more smoothly and potentially reach better performance levels. The cosine learning rate schedule is particularly useful in Llama 2, where precise fine-tuning of the learning rate is crucial to achieving optimal performance.

6.3 Efficient Implementation

Training large language models can be computationally intensive, and Llama 2 addresses this challenge by implementing several efficiency-enhancing techniques.

The model utilizes an efficient implementation of the causal multi-head attention mechanism [7]. This implementation optimizes memory usage and computation by avoiding the storage of attention weights and not computing masked key / query scores that are not relevant for the causal nature of language modeling. By optimizing the attention mechanism, Llama 2 reduces memory overhead and computational complexity, making training more efficient and feasible even for larger models.

In order to further improve training efficiency, Llama implements checkpointing. During the backward pass, checkpointing involves saving certain activations that are expensive to compute, such as the outputs of linear layers. By manually implementing the backward function for transformer layers and using checkpointing, Llama minimizes the recomputation of activations during backpropagation, reducing memory usage and computational requirements.

7. Carbon Footprint Considerations

Significant computational resources are required to train large language models, raising concerns about their environmental impact. The carbon footprint of training Llama 2 models is dependent on the data center's energy source. Using the national average carbon intensity factor of 0.385 kg CO2eq/KWh as an estimate, Llama 2’s carbon emissions are substantial but can vary depending on the location and energy source of the data center. Llama's training methodology and implementation techniques aid in reducing computational requirements and training time. Despite this, the overall energy consumption remains considerable due to the size of the model.

8. Conclusion

In conclusion, Llama 2 is an open-source collection of foundation language models ranging from 7B to 70B parameters, known for its superior performance, scalability, and commitment to transparency. Its open-source approach fosters transparency and inclusivity by relying solely on publicly available data, making it accessible to a broader audience. Llama 2’s unique training approach involves using diverse datasets and implementing architecture enhancements like pre-normalization, SwiGLU activation function, and rotary positional embeddings. The models are efficiently implemented with causal multi-head attention and checkpointing techniques. Despite the energy-intensive nature of training large language models, Llama demonstrates a commitment to sustainability by minimizing its carbon footprint. Its open and scalable framework empowers researchers and developers to drive AI advancements and encourages responsible AI practices for the benefit of society.

In the future, Llama 2 has the potential to advance AI and language modeling further. By exploring larger datasets and optimizing its architecture, its performance across various language tasks can be improved. Fine-tuning for specific domains can cater to diverse industries. Addressing ethical concerns like bias and toxicity will ensure responsible AI deployment. Llama 2’s open-source nature will foster collaboration and responsible research, while efforts to reduce its carbon footprint demonstrate its commitment to sustainability. Overall, its future scope promises innovation, accessibility, and ethical AI practices for a positive impact on society.

LLaMa 2 can be implemented on E2E networks, which offers various flavors of GPU nodes listed below:

E2E Networks is a user-friendly platform that provides all the above nodes at a reasonable cost. Feel free to experiment with Llama 2 by signing up on E2E at https://myaccount.e2enetworks.com/accounts/signup


[1] Meta, ‘Introducing LLaMA: A foundational, 65-billion-parameter large language model,’ Meta AI, 2023. https://ai.meta.com/blog/large-language-model-llama-meta-ai/.

[2] Meta, ‘Meta and Microsoft Introduce the Next Generation of Llama,’ Meta AI, 2023. https://ai.meta.com/blog/llama-2/.

[3] H. Touvron et al., ‘LLaMA: Open and Efficient Foundation Language Models,’ Comput. Sci. - Comput. Lang., Feb. 2023, doi: 10.48550/arXiv.2302.13971.

[4] B. Zhang and R. Sennrich, ‘Root Mean Square Layer Normalization,’ in 33rd Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, Oct. 2019, pp. 1–14, doi: 1910.07467.

[5] N. Shazeer, ‘GLU Variants Improve Transformer,’ cs.LG, Feb. 2020, [Online]. Available: http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.05202.

[6] J. Su, Y. Lu, S. Pan, A. Murtadha, B. Wen, and Y. Liu, ‘RoFormer: Enhanced Transformer with Rotary Position Embedding,’ Apr. 2021, doi: 2104.09864.

[7] T. Dao, D. Y. Fu, S. Ermon, A. Rudra, and C. Ré, ‘FlashAttention: Fast and Memory-Efficient Exact Attention with IO-Awareness, in 36th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, May 2022, pp. 1–16, [Online]. Available: http://arxiv.org/abs/2205.14135.

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