Get Started with nGraph for ONNX

Learn how to use nGraph to accelerate inference on ONNX workloads.


This tutorial is divided into two parts: a) building and installing nGraph for ONNX, and b) an example of how to use nGraph to accelerate inference on an ONNX model.

Build and install nGraph

Software requirements

Install protobuf for Ubuntu:

# apt update
# apt install -y protobuf-compiler libprotobuf-dev

Use pre-built packages

The easiest way to install ngraph and ngraph-onnx is to use pre-built packages from PyPI. Pre-built packages include the CPU backend and Intel GPU backend.


Pre-built packages (binaries) are currently not available for macOS.

Install ngraph-core:

pip install ngraph-core

Install ngraph-onnx:

pip install ngraph-onnx

Install plaidml (optional):

pip install plaidml


Installing the plaidml package is only required for users who plan to use nGraph with the PlaidML backend

Build from source

Complete the following steps to build nGraph with Python bindings from source. These steps have been tested on Ubuntu 18.04.

Before you build

Prepare your system:

apt update
apt install -y python3 python3-pip python3-dev python-virtualenv
apt install -y build-essential cmake curl clang-3.9 git zlib1g zlib1g-dev libtinfo-dev unzip autoconf automake libtool

Choose which backends to enable:

Intel GPU backend

For INTELGPU support, use nGraph version 0.24.

To build nGraph with an Intel GPU backend, add -DNGRAPH_INTELGPU_ENABLE=TRUE to the cmake command. For example:


PlaidML backend

To build nGraph with a PlaidML backend, add -DNGRAPH_PLAIDML_ENABLE=TRUE to the cmake command. For example:


To build nGraph with more than one backend, pass multiple flags to cmake. For example:


Build the nGraph wheel

Clone nGraph’s master branch and then build nGraph:

cd # Change directory to where you would like to clone nGraph sources
git clone -b master --single-branch --depth 1
mkdir ngraph/build && cd ngraph/build
make install

Prepare a Python virtual environment for nGraph (recommended):

mkdir -p ~/.virtualenvs && cd ~/.virtualenvs
virtualenv -p $(which python3) nGraph
source nGraph/bin/activate
(nGraph) $

(nGraph) indicates that you have created and activated a Python virtual environment called nGraph.

Build a Python wheel for nGraph:

(nGraph) $ cd # Change directory to where you have cloned nGraph sources
(nGraph) $ cd ngraph/python
(nGraph) $ git clone --recursive
(nGraph) $ export PYBIND_HEADERS_PATH=$PWD/pybind11
(nGraph) $ export NGRAPH_CPP_BUILD_PATH=../build/ngraph_dist
(nGraph) $ pip install numpy
(nGraph) $ python bdist_wheel

Navigate to the dist subdirectory to locate the Python wheel: ngraph-*.whl

For additional information on how to build nGraph Python bindings see the Python API documentation.

Install the nGraph wheel

Once the Python wheel ngraph-*.whl is built, install it using pip. For example:

(nGraph) $ pip install -U dist/ngraph_core-0.0.0.dev0-cp36-cp36m-linux_x86_64.whl

Verify installation of nGraph (optional):

To verify that nGraph is properly installed in your Python shell:

>>> import ngraph as ng
>>> ng.abs([[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6]])
<Abs: 'Abs_1' ([2, 3])>

Additionally, check that nGraph and nGraph’s Python wheel were both built with the NGRAPH_ONNX_IMPORT_ENABLE option:

from ngraph.impl import onnx_import

If you don’t see any errors, nGraph should be installed correctly.

Install ngraph-onnx

ngraph-onnx is an additional Python library that provides a Python API to run ONNX models using nGraph.

To install ngraph-onnx:

Clone ngraph-onnx sources to the same directory where you cloned ngraph sources.

(nGraph) $ cd # Change directory to where you have cloned nGraph sources
(nGraph) $ git clone -b master --single-branch --depth 1
(nGraph) $ cd ngraph-onnx

In your Python virtual environment, install the required packages and ngraph-onnx:

(nGraph) $ pip install -r requirements.txt
(nGraph) $ pip install -r requirements_test.txt
(nGraph) $ pip install -e .

Verify installation of ngraph-onnx (optional):

To verify that ngraph-onnx installed correctly, you can run our test suite using:

(nGraph) $ pytest tests/ --backend=CPU -v
(nGraph) $ NGRAPH_BACKEND=CPU TOX_INSTALL_NGRAPH_FROM=../ngraph/python tox

Run inference on an ONNX model

After installing ngraph-onnx from source, you can run inference on an ONNX model. The model is a file which contains a graph representing a mathematical formula (for example, a function such as y = f(x)).

Import a model

See also: import_serialized_onnx

Download a model from the ONNX model zoo. For example, ResNet-50:

tar -xzvf resnet50.tar.gz

Use the following Python commands to convert the downloaded model to an nGraph model:

# Import ONNX and load an ONNX file from disk
>>> import onnx
>>> onnx_protobuf = onnx.load('resnet50/model.onnx')

# Convert ONNX model to an ngraph model
>>> from ngraph_onnx.onnx_importer.importer import import_onnx_model
>>> ng_function = import_onnx_model(onnx_protobuf)

# The importer returns a list of ngraph models for every ONNX graph output:
>>> print(ng_function)
<Function: 'resnet50' ([1, 1000])>

This creates an nGraph Function object, which can be used to execute a computation on a chosen backend.

Run the computation

An ONNX model usually contains a trained neural network. To run inference on this model, you execute the computation contained within the model.

After importing an ONNX model, you will have an nGraph Function object. Now you can create an nGraph Runtime backend and use it to compile your Function to a backend-specific Computation object.

Execute your model by calling the created Computation object with input data:

# Using an ngraph runtime (CPU backend) create a callable computation object
>>> import ngraph as ng
>>> runtime = ng.runtime(backend_name='CPU')
>>> resnet_on_cpu = runtime.computation(ng_function)

# Load an image (or create a mock as in this example)
>>> import numpy as np
>>> picture = np.ones([1, 3, 224, 224], dtype=np.float32)

# Run computation on the picture:
>>> resnet_on_cpu(picture)
[array([[2.16105007e-04, 5.58412226e-04, 9.70510227e-05, 5.76671446e-05,
         7.45318757e-05, 4.80892748e-04, 5.67404088e-04, 9.48728994e-05,

Use a different backend

A backend is a layer between nGraph and the device on your machine that executes the model.

You can substitute the default CPU backend with a different backend such as INTELGPU or PlaidML.

For running the computation on an Intel GPU, use the following line to create the runtime:

runtime = ng.runtime(backend_name='INTELGPU')


If you encounter any problems with this tutorial, please submit a ticket to our issues page on GitHub.