EnvPool: A Highly Parallel Reinforcement Learning Environment Execution Engine


Jiayi Weng, Min Lin, Shengyi Huang, Bo Liu, Denys Makoviichuk, Viktor Makoviychuk, Zichen Liu, Yufan Song, Ting Luo, Yukun Jiang, Zhongwen Xu, Shuicheng Yan

Published on

July 21, 2022



There has been significant progress in developing reinforcement learning (RL) training systems. Past works such as IMPALA, Apex, Seed RL, Sample Factory, and others aim to improve the system's overall throughput. In this paper, we try to address a common bottleneck in the RL training system, i.e., parallel environment execution, which is often the slowest part of the whole system but receives little attention. With a curated design for paralleling RL environments, we have improved the RL environment simulation speed across different hardware setups, ranging from a laptop, and a modest workstation, to a high-end machine like NVIDIA DGX-A100. On a high-end machine, EnvPool achieves 1 million frames per second for the environment execution on Atari environments and 3 million frames per second on MuJoCo environments. When running on a laptop, the speed of EnvPool is 2.8 times of the Python subprocess. Moreover, great compatibility with existing RL training libraries has been demonstrated in the open-sourced community, including CleanRL, rl_games, DeepMind Acme, etc. Finally, EnvPool allows researchers to iterate their ideas at a much faster pace and has the great potential to become the de facto RL environment execution engine. Example runs show that it takes only 5 minutes to train Atari Pong and MuJoCo Ant, both on a laptop.

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