Migrate checkpointing to Orbax#

This guide shows how to convert Flax’s checkpoint saving and restoring calls — flax.training.checkpoints.save_checkpoint and restore_checkpoint — to the equivalent Orbax methods. Orbax provides a flexible and customizable API for managing checkpoints for various objects. Note that as Flax’s checkpointing is being migrated to Orbax from flax.training.checkpoints, all existing features in the Flax API will continue to be supported, but the API will change.

You will learn how to migrate to Orbax through the following scenarios:

  • The most common use case: Saving/loading and managing checkpoints

  • A “lightweight” use case: “Pure” saving/loading without the top-level checkpoint manager

  • Restoring checkpoints without a target pytree

  • Async checkpointing

  • Saving/loading a single JAX or NumPy Array

To learn more about Orbax, check out the quick start introductory Colab notebook and the official Orbax documentation.

You can click on “Open in Colab” above to run the code from this guide.

Throughout the guide, you will be able to compare code examples with and without the Orbax code.


# Create some dummy variables for this example.
CKPT_PYTREE = [12, {'foo': 'str', 'bar': np.array((2, 3))}, [1, 4, 10]]
TARGET_PYTREE = [0, {'foo': '', 'bar': np.array((0))}, [0, 0, 0]]

Most common use case: Saving/loading and managing checkpoints#

This section covers the following scenario:

  • Your original Flax save_checkpoint() or save_checkpoint_multiprocess() call contains the following arguments: prefix, keep, keep_every_n_steps; or

  • You want to use some automatic management logic for your checkpoints (for example, for deleting old data, deleting data based on metrics/loss, and so on).

In this case, you need to use orbax.CheckpointManager. This allows you to not only save and load your model, but also manage your checkpoints and delete outdated checkpoints automatically.

To upgrade your code:

  1. Create and keep an orbax.CheckpointManager instance at the top level, customized with orbax.CheckpointManagerOptions.

  2. At runtime, call orbax.CheckpointManager.save() to save your data.

  3. Then, call orbax.CheckpointManager.restore() to restore your data.

  4. And, if your checkpoint includes some multi-host/multi-process array, pass the correct mesh into flax.training.orbax_utils.restore_args_from_target() to generate the correct restore_args before restoring.

For example:

CKPT_DIR = '/tmp/orbax_upgrade/'
flax.config.update('flax_use_orbax_checkpointing', False)

# Inside your training loop
for step in range(MAX_STEPS):
  # do training
  checkpoints.save_checkpoint(CKPT_DIR, CKPT_PYTREE, step=step,
                              prefix='test_', keep=3, keep_every_n_steps=2)

checkpoints.restore_checkpoint(CKPT_DIR, target=TARGET_PYTREE, step=4, prefix='test_')
CKPT_DIR = '/tmp/orbax_upgrade/orbax'

# At the top level
mgr_options = orbax.checkpoint.CheckpointManagerOptions(
  create=True, max_to_keep=3, keep_period=2, step_prefix='test')
ckpt_mgr = orbax.checkpoint.CheckpointManager(
  orbax.checkpoint.Checkpointer(orbax.checkpoint.PyTreeCheckpointHandler()), mgr_options)

# Inside your training loop
for step in range(MAX_STEPS):
  # do training
  save_args = flax.training.orbax_utils.save_args_from_target(CKPT_PYTREE)
  ckpt_mgr.save(step, CKPT_PYTREE, save_kwargs={'save_args': save_args})

restore_args = flax.training.orbax_utils.restore_args_from_target(TARGET_PYTREE, mesh=None)
ckpt_mgr.restore(4, items=TARGET_PYTREE, restore_kwargs={'restore_args': restore_args})

A “lightweight” use case: “Pure” saving/loading without the top-level checkpoint manager#

If you prefer to not maintain a top-level checkpoint manager, you can still save and restore any individual checkpoint with an orbax.checkpoint.Checkpointer. Note that this means you cannot use all the Orbax management features.

To migrate to Orbax code, instead of using the overwrite argument in flax.save_checkpoint() use the force argument in orbax.checkpoint.Checkpointer.save().

For example:

PURE_CKPT_DIR = '/tmp/orbax_upgrade/pure'
flax.config.update('flax_use_orbax_checkpointing', False)

checkpoints.save_checkpoint(PURE_CKPT_DIR, CKPT_PYTREE, step=0, overwrite=True)
checkpoints.restore_checkpoint(PURE_CKPT_DIR, target=TARGET_PYTREE)
PURE_CKPT_DIR = '/tmp/orbax_upgrade/pure'

ckptr = orbax.checkpoint.Checkpointer(orbax.checkpoint.PyTreeCheckpointHandler())  # A stateless object, can be created on the fly.
           save_args=flax.training.orbax_utils.save_args_from_target(CKPT_PYTREE), force=True)
ckptr.restore(PURE_CKPT_DIR, item=TARGET_PYTREE,
              restore_args=flax.training.orbax_utils.restore_args_from_target(TARGET_PYTREE, mesh=None))

Restoring checkpoints without a target pytree#

If you need to restore your checkpoints without a target pytree, pass item=None to orbax.checkpoint.Checkpointer or items=None to orbax.CheckpointManager’s .restore() method, which should trigger the restoration.

For example:

NOTARGET_CKPT_DIR = '/tmp/orbax_upgrade/no_target'
flax.config.update('flax_use_orbax_checkpointing', False)

checkpoints.save_checkpoint(NOTARGET_CKPT_DIR, CKPT_PYTREE, step=0)
checkpoints.restore_checkpoint(NOTARGET_CKPT_DIR, target=None)
NOTARGET_CKPT_DIR = '/tmp/orbax_upgrade/no_target'

# A stateless object, can be created on the fly.
ckptr = orbax.checkpoint.Checkpointer(orbax.checkpoint.PyTreeCheckpointHandler())
ckptr.restore(NOTARGET_CKPT_DIR, item=None)

Async checkpointing#

To make your checkpoint-saving asynchronous, substitute orbax.checkpoint.Checkpointer with orbax.checkpoint.AsyncCheckpointer.

Then, you can call orbax.checkpoint.AsyncCheckpointer.wait_until_finished() or Orbax’s CheckpointerManager.wait_until_finished() to wait for the save the complete.

For more details, read the checkpoint guide.

Saving/loading a single JAX or NumPy Array#

The orbax.checkpoint.PyTreeCheckpointHandler class, as the name suggests, can only be used for pytrees. Therefore, if you need to save/restore a single pytree leaf (for example, an array), use orbax.checkpoint.ArrayCheckpointHandler instead.

For example:

ARR_CKPT_DIR = '/tmp/orbax_upgrade/singleton'
flax.config.update('flax_use_orbax_checkpointing', False)

checkpoints.save_checkpoint(ARR_CKPT_DIR, jnp.arange(10), step=0)
checkpoints.restore_checkpoint(ARR_CKPT_DIR, target=None)
ARR_CKPT_DIR = '/tmp/orbax_upgrade/singleton'

ckptr = orbax.checkpoint.Checkpointer(orbax.checkpoint.ArrayCheckpointHandler())
ckptr.save(ARR_CKPT_DIR, jnp.arange(10))
ckptr.restore(ARR_CKPT_DIR, item=None)

Final words#

This guide provides an overview of how to migrate from the “legacy” Flax checkpointing API to the Orbax API. Orbax provides more functionalities and the Orbax team is actively developing new features. Stay tuned and follow the official Orbax GitHub repository for more!