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Double-Buffered Sampling

Sample Factory supports accelerated sampling regime called double-buffered sampling which can be enabled by setting --worker_num_splits=2 (default value) and --num_envs_per_worker to a multiple of 2.

Note that this feature is independent of sync/async or batched/non-batched mode and can be used in any configuration.


Experience collection in RL is normally a sequential process. We can't collect the next observation until we generate an action based on the current observation.

This means that for CPU-based environments we can't use our CPU cores when we're waiting for the inference to finish. This is a waste of resources and it slows down training.

Double-buffered sampling solves this problem by simulating 2*N environments serially in the same process. While we're waiting for the inference to finish on the first N environments, we can already collect observations from the next N environments.

The diagram below shows how this works:


Additionally, take a look at this animation that demonstrates double-buffered sampling: