Using the fusion API#

Increasing the depth of deep-learning networks requires novel mechanisms to improve GPU performance. One mechanism to achieve higher efficiency is to fuse separate kernels into a single kernel in order to reduce off-chip memory access and avoid kernel launch overhead.

Using MIOpen’s fusion API, you can specify operators that you want to fuse into a single kernel, compile that kernel, and then launch it. While not all combinations are supported, the API is flexible enough to allow the specification of several operations, in any order, from the set of supported operations. The API provides a mechanism to report unsupported combinations.

You can find a complete example of MIOpen’s fusion API in our GitHub repository example folder. The code examples in this document are from the example project.


The example project creates a fusion plan to merge the convolution, bias, and activation operations. For a list of supported fusion operations and associated constraints, refer to the Supported fusions section. For simplicity, the example doesn’t populate the tensors with meaningful data and shows only basic code without any error checking.

Once you’ve initialized an MIOpen handle object, the workflow for using the fusion API is:

  • Create a fusion plan

  • Create and add the convolution, bias, and activation operators

  • Compile the fusion plan

  • Set the runtime arguments for each operator

  • Run the fusion plan

  • Cleanup

The order in which you create operators is important because this order represents the order of operations for the data. Therefore, a fusion plan where convolution is created before activation differs from a fusion plan where activation is added before convolution.


The primary consumers of the fusion API are high-level frameworks, such as TensorFlow/XLA and PyTorch.

Creating a fusion plan#

A fusion plan is the data structure that holds all the metadata regarding fusion intent, and the logic to compile and run a fusion plan. The fusion plan not only contains the order in which different operations are applied on the data, but also specifies the axis of fusion. Currently, only vertical (sequential) fusions are supported (implying the flow of data between operations is sequential).

You can create a fusion plan using miopenCreateFusionPlan, as follows:

miopenCreateFusionPlan(miopenFusionPlanDescriptor_t* fusePlanDesc,
const miopenFusionDirection_t fuseDirection,const miopenTensorDescriptor_t inputDesc);

The input tensor descriptor specifies the geometry of the incoming data. Because the data geometry of the intermediate operations can be derived from the input tensor descriptor, only this is required for the fusion plan (i.e. the input tensor descriptor isn’t required for the individual operations).

miopenCreateFusionPlan(&fusePlanDesc, miopenVerticalFusion, input.desc);

Where: * fusePlanDesc is an object of type miopenFusionPlanDescriptor_t * input.desc is the miopenTensorDescriptor_t object

Creating and adding operators#

Operators represent the different operations that you want fused. Currently, the API supports these operators:

  • Convolution forward

  • Activation forward

  • BatchNorm inference

  • Bias forward


Although bias is a separate operator, it’s typically only used with convolution.

We plan to add support for more operators, including operators for backward passes, in the future.

The fusion API provides calls for the creation of the supported operators. To learn more, refer to the Fusion API documentation.

Once you’ve created the fusion plan descriptor, you can add two or more operators to it by using the individual operator creation API calls. If the API doesn’t support the fusion of the operations you add, the creation might fail.

In our example, we add the convolution, bias, and activation operations to our newly created fusion plan.

miopenCreateOpConvForward(miopenFusionPlanDescriptor_t fusePlanDesc,
                          miopenFusionOpDescriptor_t* convOp,
                          miopenConvolutionDescriptor_t convDesc,
                          const miopenTensorDescriptor_t wDesc);
miopenCreateOpBiasForward(miopenFusionPlanDescriptor_t fusePlanDesc,
                          miopenFusionOpDescriptor_t* biasOp,
                          const miopenTensorDescriptor_t bDesc);

miopenCreateOpActivationForward(miopenFusionPlanDescriptor_t fusePlanDesc,
                                miopenFusionOpDescriptor_t* activOp,
                                miopenActivationMode_t mode);

conv_desc is the regular MIOpen convolution descriptor. For more information on creating and setting the this descriptor, refer to the example code and the Convolution API documentation.

weights.desc refers to miopenTensorDescriptor_t for the convolution operations.

bias.desc refers to the object of the same type for the bias operation.

In the preceding code, the convolution operation is the first operation to run on the incoming data, followed by the bias, and then activation operations.

During this process, it is important that you verify the returned codes to make sure the operations (and their order) is supported. The operator insertion can fail for a number of reasons, such as unsupported operation sequence, unsupported input dimensions, or, in the case of convolution, unsupported filter dimensions. In the preceding example, these aspects are ignored for the sake of simplicity.

Compiling the fusion plan#

Following the operator addition, you can compile the fusion plan. This populates the MIOpen kernel cache with the fused kernel and gets it ready to run.

miopenCompileFusionPlan(miopenHandle_t handle, miopenFusionPlanDescriptor_t fusePlanDesc);

The corresponding code snippet in the example is:

auto status = miopenCompileFusionPlan(mio::handle(), fusePlanDesc);
if (status != miopenStatusSuccess) {
return -1;

In order to compile the fusion plan, you must have acquired an MIOpen handle object. In the preceding code, this is accomplished using the mio::handle() helper function. While a fusion plan is itself not bound to an MIOpen handle object, it must be recompiled for each handle separately.

Compiling a fusion plan is a costly operation in terms of run-time, and compilation can fail for a number of reasons. Therefore, we recommended only compiling your fusion plan once and reusing it with different runtime parameters, as described in the next section.

Setting runtime arguments#

While the fusion operator for the underlying MIOpen descriptor specifies the data geometry and parameters, the fusion plan still needs access to the data to run a successfully compiled fusion plan. The arguments mechanism in the fusion API provides this data before a fusion plan can be run. For example, the convolution operator requires weights to carry out the convolution computation,and the bias operator requires the actual bias values. Therefore, before you can run a fusion plan, you must specify the arguments required by each fusion operator.

To begin, create the miopenOperatorArgs_t object using:

miopenStatus_t miopenCreateOperatorArgs(miopenOperatorArgs_t* args);

Once created, you can set the runtime arguments for each operation. In our example, the forward convolution operator requires the convolution weights argument, which is supplied using:

miopenSetOpArgsConvForward(miopenOperatorArgs_t args,
                          const miopenFusionOpDescriptor_t convOp,
                          const void* alpha,
                          const void* beta,
                          const void* w);

Similarly, the parameters for bias and activation are given by:

miopenStatus_t miopenSetOpArgsBiasForward(miopenOperatorArgs_t args,
                                          const miopenFusionOpDescriptor_t biasOp,
                                          const void* alpha,
                                          const void* beta,
                                          const void* bias);

miopenStatus_t miopenSetOpArgsActivForward(miopenOperatorArgs_t args,
                                          const miopenFusionOpDescriptor_t activOp,
                                          const void* alpha,
                                          const void* beta,
                                          double activAlpha,
                                          double activBeta,
                                          double activGamma);

In our example code, we set the arguments for the operations as follows:

miopenSetOpArgsConvForward(fusionArgs, convoOp, &alpha, &beta,;
miopenSetOpArgsActivForward(fusionArgs, activOp, &alpha, &beta, activ_alpha,
                          activ_beta, activ_gamma);
miopenSetOpArgsBiasForward(fusionArgs, biasOp, &alpha, &beta,;

The separation between the fusion plan and the arguments required by each operator allows better reuse of the fusion plan with different arguments. It also avoids the necessity to recompile the fusion plan to run the same combination of operators with different arguments.

As previously mentioned, the compilation step for a fusion plan can be costly; therefore, we recommend only compiling a fusion plan once in its lifetime. A fusion plan doesn’t need to be recompiled if the input descriptor or any of the parameters in the miopenCreateOp* API calls are different. You can repeatedly reuse a compiled fusion plan with a different set of arguments.

In our example, this is demonstrated in main.cpp, lines 77 through 85.

Running a fusion plan#

Once you’ve compiled the fusion plan and set arguments set for each operator, you can run it as follows:

miopenExecuteFusionPlan(const miopenHandle_t handle,
                        const miopenFusionPlanDescriptor_t fusePlanDesc,
                        const miopenTensorDescriptor_t inputDesc,
                        const void* input,
                        const miopenTensorDescriptor_t outputDesc,
                        void* output,
                        miopenOperatorArgs_t args);

The following code snippet runs the fusion plan:

miopenExecuteFusionPlan(mio::handle(), fusePlanDesc, input.desc,,
                        output.desc,, fusionArgs);

If you try to run a fusion plan that is not compiled, or has been invalidated by changing the input tensor descriptor or any of the operation parameters, you’ll get an error.


Once the application is done with the fusion plan, you can detroy the fusion plan and the fusion args objects:

miopenStatus_t miopenDestroyFusionPlan(miopenFusionPlanDescriptor_t fusePlanDesc);

After the fusion plan object is destroyed, all the operations are automatically destroyed, and you don’t need to worry about additional cleanup.

Supported fusions#

The following tables outline the supported fusions for FP32 and FP16, including any applicable constraints.


Fusion Plans with grouped convolutions are not supported.

C = convolution, B = bias, N = batch normalization, A = activation

Convolution based fp32 fusion Convolution based fp16 fusion

Comparing performance with non-fused kernels#

The following graph depicts the speedup gained for a fused convolution+bias+activation over a non-fused version. All configurations have a batch size of 64:

convolution-bias-activation graph

The following graph depicts the speedup obtained by fusing BatchNorm (spatial mode) with activation:

BatchNorm activation fusion