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T5X is a modular, composable, research-friendly framework for high-performance, configurable, self-service training, evaluation, and inference of sequence models (starting with language) at many scales.

It is essentially a new and improved implementation of the T5 codebase (based on Mesh TensorFlow) in JAX and Flax. To learn more, see the T5X Paper.

Below is a quick start guide for training models with TPUs on Google Cloud. For additional tutorials and background, see the complete documentation.

GPU Usage#

Note: NVIDIA has released an updated version of this repository with H100 FP8 support and broad GPU performance improvements. Please visit the NVIDIA Rosetta repository for more details and usage instructions.

T5X can be run easily on GPUs either in single-node configurations or multi-node configurations with a SLURM+pyxis cluster. Further instructions at t5x/contrib/gpu. The t5x/contrib/gpu/scripts_gpu folder contains example scripts for pretraining T5X on The Pile and for finetuning on SQuAD and MNLI. These scripts and associated gin configurations also contain additional GPU optimizations for better throughput. More examples and instructions can be found in the NVIDIA Rosetta repository maintained by NVIDIA with H100 FP8 support and broad GPU performance improvements.


Note that all the commands in this document should be run in the commandline of the TPU VM instance unless otherwise stated.

  1. Follow the instructions to set up a Google Cloud Platform (GCP) account and enable the Cloud TPU API.

    Note: T5X also works with GPU, please follow instructions in t5x/contrib/gpu if you’d like to use GPU version.

  2. Create a Cloud TPU VM instance following this instruction. We recommend that you develop your workflow in a single v3-8 TPU (i.e., --accelerator-type=v3-8) and scale up to pod slices once the pipeline is ready. In this README, we focus on using a single v3-8 TPU. See here to learn more about TPU architectures.

  3. With Cloud TPU VMs, you ssh directly into the host machine of the TPU VM. You can install packages, run your code run, etc. in the host machine. Once the TPU instance is created, ssh into it with

    gcloud alpha compute tpus tpu-vm ssh ${TPU_NAME} --zone=${ZONE}

    where TPU_NAME and ZONE are the name and the zone used in step 2.

  4. Install T5X and the dependencies.

    git clone --branch=main https://github.com/google-research/t5x
    cd t5x
    python3 -m pip install -e '.[tpu]' -f \
  5. Create Google Cloud Storage (GCS) bucket to store the dataset and model checkpoints. To create a GCS bucket, see these instructions.

  6. (optional) If you prefer working with Jupyter/Colab style environment you can setup a custom Colab runtime by following steps from t5x/notebooks.

Example: English to German translation#

As a running example, we use the WMT14 En-De translation. The raw dataset is available in TensorFlow Datasets as “wmt_t2t_translate”.

T5 casts the translation task such as the following

{'en': 'That is good.', 'de': 'Das ist gut.'}

to the form called “text-to-text”:

{'inputs': 'translate English to German: That is good.', 'targets': 'Das ist gut.'}

This formulation allows many different classes of language tasks to be expressed in a uniform manner and a single encoder-decoder architecture can handle them without any task-specific parameters. For more detail, refer to the T5 paper (Raffel et al. 2019).

For a scalable data pipeline and an evaluation framework, we use SeqIO, which was factored out of the T5 library. A seqio.Task packages together the raw dataset, vocabulary, preprocessing such as tokenization and evaluation metrics such as BLEU and provides a tf.data instance.

The T5 library provides a number of seqio.Tasks that were used in the T5 paper. In this example, we use wmt_t2t_ende_v003.

Before training or fine-tuning you need to download [“wmt_t2t_translate”] (https://www.tensorflow.org/datasets/catalog/wmt_t2t_translate) dataset first.

# Data dir to save the processed dataset in "gs://data_dir" format.

# Make sure that dataset package is up-to-date.
python3 -m pip install --upgrade tfds-nightly

# Pre-download dataset.
tfds build wmt_t2t_translate ${TFDS_DATA_DIR}


To run a training job, we use the t5x/train.py script.

# Model dir to save logs, ckpts, etc. in "gs://model_dir" format.
T5X_DIR="..."  # directory where the T5X repo is cloned.

python3 ${T5X_DIR}/t5x/train.py \
  --gin_file="t5x/examples/t5/t5_1_1/examples/base_wmt_from_scratch.gin" \
  --gin.MODEL_DIR=\"${MODEL_DIR}\" \

The configuration for this training run is defined in the Gin file base_wmt_from_scratch.gin. Gin-config is a library to handle configurations based on dependency injection. Among many benefits, Gin allows users to pass custom components such as a custom model to the T5X library without having to modify the core library. The custom components section shows how this is done.

While the core library is independent of Gin, it is central to the examples we provide. Therefore, we provide a short introduction to Gin in the context of T5X. All the configurations are written to a file “config.gin” in MODEL_DIR. This makes debugging as well as reproducing the experiment much easier.

In addition to the config.json, model-info.txt file summarizes the model parameters (shape, names of the axes, partitioning info) as well as the optimizer states.


To monitor the training in TensorBoard, it is much easier (due to authentification issues) to launch the TensorBoard on your own machine and not in the TPU VM. So in the commandline where you ssh’ed into the TPU VM, launch the TensorBoard with the logdir pointing to the MODEL_DIR.

# NB: run this on your machine not TPU VM!
MODEL_DIR="..."  # Copy from the TPU VM.
tensorboard --logdir=${MODEL_DIR}

Or you can launch the TensorBoard inside a Colab. In a Colab cell, run

from google.colab import auth

to authorize the Colab to access the GCS bucket and launch the TensorBoard.

%load_ext tensorboard
model_dir = "..."  # Copy from the TPU VM.
%tensorboard --logdir=model_dir


We can leverage the benefits of self-supervised pre-training by initializing from one of our pre-trained models. Here we use the T5.1.1 Base checkpoint.

# Model dir to save logs, ckpts, etc. in "gs://model_dir" format.

# Data dir to save the processed dataset in "gs://data_dir" format.
T5X_DIR="..."  # directory where the T5X repo is cloned.

python3 ${T5X_DIR}/t5x/train.py \
  --gin_file="t5x/examples/t5/t5_1_1/examples/base_wmt_finetune.gin" \
  --gin.MODEL_DIR=\"${MODEL_DIR}\" \

Note: when supplying a string, dict, list, tuple value, or a bash variable via a flag, you must put it in quotes. In the case of strings, it requires escaped quotes (\"<string>\"). For example: --gin.utils.DatasetConfig.split=\"validation\" or --gin.MODEL_DIR=\"${MODEL_DIR}\".

Gin makes it easy to change a number of configurations. For example, you can change the partitioning.PjitPartitioner.num_partitions (overriding the value in base_wmt_from_scratch.gin) to chanage the parallelism strategy and pass it as a commandline arg.



To run the offline (i.e. without training) evaluation, you can use t5x/eval.py script.

EVAL_OUTPUT_DIR="..."  # directory to write eval output
T5X_DIR="..."  # directory where the t5x is cloned, e.g., ${HOME}"/t5x".

python3 ${T5X_DIR}/t5x/eval.py \
  --gin_file="t5x/examples/t5/t5_1_1/examples/base_wmt_eval.gin" \


To run inference, you can use t5x/infer.py script. Here we use the same seqio.Task, but for inference we do not use the targets features other than logging them alongside the prediction in a JSON file.

INFER_OUTPUT_DIR="..."  # directory to write infer output
T5X_DIR="..."  # directory where the t5x is cloned, e.g., ${HOME}"/t5x".

python3 ${T5X_DIR}/t5x/infer.py \
  --gin_file="t5x/examples/t5/t5_1_1/examples/base_wmt_infer.gin" \

Exporting as TensorFlow Saved Model#

Pretrained model can be exported as TensorFlow Saved Model, and deployed to Vertex AI Prediction service using [Optimized TensorFlow Runtime] (https://cloud.google.com/vertex-ai/docs/predictions/optimized-tensorflow-runtime). Please note that exported model won’t work on OSS based TensorFlow Model Server.

T5X_DIR="..."  # directory where the t5x is cloned, e.g., ${HOME}"/t5x".


# Use 'bfloat16' if you plan to run exported model on NVIDIA A100 or newer GPUs,
# for other GPUs use 'float32'.

# Version numbers must be numeric. We generate one based on datetime.
VERSION=$(date +%Y%m%d%H%M%S)

NAME=t5x_base_${ACTIVATION_DTYPE}  # Model name.

# Path to export model to. Note that export script is going to add _cpu suffix
# after model name.

declare -a ARGS=(
--gin.TASK_FEATURE_LENGTHS="{'inputs': 256, 'targets': 256}"
--gin.export_lib.save.warmup_examples="['hello world']"

(python3 ${T5X_DIR}/t5x/export.py "${ARGS[@]}")

For detailed arguments definition refer to [export.gin] (t5x/configs/runs/export.gin).

You can run XL and smaller models on NVIDIA A100 40GB, and XXL models on NVIDIA A100 80GB.

Custom components#

The translation example uses the encoder-decoder model that T5X provides as well as the dataset from the T5 library. This section shows how you can use your own dataset and a model and pass via Gin.

Example: custom dataset in a user directory#

For this example, we have the following directory structure with ${HOME}/dir1/user_dir representing a user directory with custom components.

└── dir1
    └── user_dir
        ├── t5_1_1_base_de_en.gin
        └── tasks.py

As an example, let’s define a new dataset. Here we use the same Translation dataset but we define the translation task in the opposite direction, i.e., German to English intead of English to German. We define this task in tasks.py

# ${HOME}/dir1/user_dir/tasks.py

import functools
import seqio
import tensorflow_datasets as tfds
from t5.evaluation import metrics
from t5.data import preprocessors

vocabulary = seqio.SentencePieceVocabulary(
    'gs://t5-data/vocabs/cc_all.32000/sentencepiece.model', extra_ids=100)
output_features = {
    'inputs': seqio.Feature(vocabulary=vocabulary),
    'targets': seqio.Feature(vocabulary=vocabulary)

            source_language='de', target_language='en'),

In the Gin file, most of the settings are equivalent to those used in the En->De example. So we include the Gin file from that example. To use “wmt_t2t_de_en_v003” task we just defined, we need to import the task module “tasks.py”. Note that we use a relative path defined with respect to the user directory. This will be specified as a flag.

# ${HOME}/dir1/user_dir/t5_1_1_base_de_en.gin
from __gin__ import dynamic_registration
import tasks  # This imports the task defined in dir1/user_dir/tasks.py.

include "t5x-tmp/t5x/examples/t5/t5_1_1/examples/base_wmt_from_scratch.gin"
MIXTURE_OR_TASK_NAME = "wmt_t2t_de_en_v003"

Finally, we launch training passing the user directory as a flag gin_search_paths such that the Gin file and python modules can be specified with relative paths.

T5X_DIR="..."  # directory where the t5x is cloned.

python3 ${T5X_DIR}/t5x/train.py \
  --gin_search_paths=${PROJECT_DIR} \
  --gin_file="t5_1_1_base_de_en.gin" \
  --gin.MODEL_DIR=\"${MODEL_DIR}\" \


Native Checkpoints#

We have released the checkpoints of many of the original T5 models and their variants a native T5X format for maximal efficiency. See the complete list including the matching Gin configuration files.

These are converted from the public Mesh TensorFlow checkpoints .

Compatibility with the Mesh TensorFlow checkpoints#

The Mesh TensorFlow checkpoints trained using the T5 library can be directly loaded into T5X. For example, we can rerun the fine-tuning example initializing from the MTF checkpoint by changing the INIT_CHECKPOINT Gin macro.

# Model dir to save logs, ckpts, etc. in "gs://model_dir" format.

# Data dir to save the processed dataset in "gs://data_dir" format.
T5X_DIR="..."  # directory where the T5X repo is cloned.

python3 ${T5X_DIR}/t5x/train.py \
  --gin_file="t5x/examples/t5/t5_1_1/examples/base_wmt19_ende_train.gin" \
  --gin.MODEL_DIR=\"${MODEL_DIR}\" \
  --gin.MIXTURE_OR_TASK_NAME=\"wmt_t2t_ende_v003\" \
  --gin.INIT_CHECKPOINT=\"gs://t5-data/pretrained_models/t5.1.1.base/model.ckpt-1000000\" \

Note that restoring directly from the Mesh TensorFlow checkpoints can be inefficient if heavy model parallelism is used for large models. This is because each host loads the entire copy of the model first and then keep only the relevant slices dictated by the model parallelism specification. If you have Mesh TensorFlow checkpoints that you run often, we recommend converting the checkpoints to T5X native format using the convert_tf_checkpoint script.

Citing T5X#

Please use the following bibtex entry to cite T5X.

  url = {https://arxiv.org/abs/2203.17189},
  author = {Roberts, Adam and Chung, Hyung Won and Levskaya, Anselm and Mishra, Gaurav and Bradbury, James and Andor, Daniel and Narang, Sharan and Lester, Brian and Gaffney, Colin and Mohiuddin, Afroz and Hawthorne, Curtis and Lewkowycz, Aitor and Salcianu, Alex and van Zee, Marc and Austin, Jacob and Goodman, Sebastian and Soares, Livio Baldini and Hu, Haitang and Tsvyashchenko, Sasha and Chowdhery, Aakanksha and Bastings, Jasmijn and Bulian, Jannis and Garcia, Xavier and Ni, Jianmo and Chen, Andrew and Kenealy, Kathleen and Clark, Jonathan H. and Lee, Stephan and Garrette, Dan and Lee-Thorp, James and Raffel, Colin and Shazeer, Noam and Ritter, Marvin and Bosma, Maarten and Passos, Alexandre and Maitin-Shepard, Jeremy and Fiedel, Noah and Omernick, Mark and Saeta, Brennan and Sepassi, Ryan and Spiridonov, Alexander and Newlan, Joshua and Gesmundo, Andrea},
  title = {Scaling Up Models and Data with $\texttt{t5x}$ and $\texttt{seqio}$},
  journal={arXiv preprint arXiv:2203.17189},
  year = {2022},


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