4. The Era of 1-bit LLMs: All Large Language Models are in 1.58 Bits

The paper titled “The Era of 1-bit LLMs: All Large Language Models are in 1.58 Bits” introduces an innovative approach to optimizing large language models (LLMs) by reducing their computational and energy costs while maintaining high performance. Here’s a detailed breakdown of its content, systematically covering the paper’s key components.

The Era of 1-bit LLMs


LLMs have shown exceptional performance across a variety of tasks. However, their increasing size poses challenges, notably in deployment due to high energy consumption and computational demands. The paper addresses these challenges by proposing a 1-bit LLM variant, which significantly reduces the models’ footprint without sacrificing performance.

Introduction to 1-bit LLMs

The paper introduces “BitNet b1.58,” a 1-bit LLM architecture where each model parameter is ternary (-1, 0, 1). This approach contrasts with traditional 16-bit floating-point models, offering a more cost-effective solution in terms of latency, memory, throughput, and energy consumption. By adopting a 1-bit model, the paper argues for a new computation paradigm and a potential shift in hardware design tailored for these optimized LLMs.

BitNet b1.58


BitNet b1.58 is built upon the Transformer architecture but replaces traditional linear layers with “BitLinear,” designed for 1.58-bit weights and 8-bit activations. This design significantly reduces the size of the model and computational cost by limiting weights to three possible values, thereby simplifying matrix multiplication to primarily integer addition.

Quantization Function

The paper details a specific quantization function for constraining weights to -1, 0, or +1, using an “absmean” quantization method. This approach scales weight matrices by their average absolute value before rounding, efficiently converting them to the ternary system.


Performance Comparison

Comparative analysis against traditional LLMs (using LLaMA LLM as a reference) demonstrates that BitNet b1.58 maintains comparable perplexity and task performance while significantly reducing memory usage and improving inference speed. The paper provides extensive empirical evidence, showcasing the efficiency gains in terms of decoding latency, memory consumption, and throughput across various model sizes.

Energy Efficiency

A notable highlight is the dramatic reduction in energy consumption for matrix multiplication operations, with BitNet b1.58 achieving a 71.4 times reduction in arithmetic operations energy consumption on 7nm chips compared to traditional LLMs. This efficiency translates directly into lower overall energy costs for running these models.

Discussion and Future Work

Expansion into MoE and Long Sequences

The paper discusses potential applications and future directions, such as integrating the 1-bit approach with Mixture-of-Experts (MoE) models and supporting longer sequence inputs more efficiently. These advancements could further enhance the practical utility and efficiency of LLMs in various applications.

Deployment on Edge Devices

Looking ahead, the reduced computational and energy requirements of BitNet b1.58 open possibilities for deploying advanced LLMs on edge and mobile devices, which traditionally lack the resources to run full-sized models. This could democratize access to powerful AI capabilities across a broader range of devices and applications.

Call for Specialized Hardware

Finally, the paper calls for the development of new hardware optimized for 1-bit LLMs, envisioning a future where specialized processors could further enhance the performance and efficiency of these models.

In summary, “The Era of 1-bit LLMs” presents a groundbreaking approach to scaling down the computational and energy demands of LLMs without compromising their performance, posssibly helping in a new era of AI model optimization and application.


Ma, S., Wang, H., Ma, L., Wang, L., Wang, W., Huang, S., … & Wei, F. (2024). The Era of 1-bit LLMs: All Large Language Models are in 1.58 Bits. arXiv preprint arXiv:2402.17764.

You can also read some interesting posts on generative AI here: https://ai-researchstudies.com/category/generative-ai/

You can download a presentation on 1-bit LLM research study from here: AI_Researcher_1-bit_LLM

Thank you and happy reading! 🙂

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