API Overview#

Working with Core ML Models#

Quantizing weights#

You can linearly quantize the weights of your Core ML model by using the linear_quantize_weights method as follows:

import coremltools.optimize as cto

op_config = cto.coreml.OpLinearQuantizerConfig(
    mode="linear_symmetric", weight_threshold=512
config = cto.coreml.OptimizationConfig(global_config=op_config)

compressed_8_bit_model = cto.coreml.linear_quantize_weights(model, config=config)

The method defaults to linear_symmetric, which uses only per-channel scales and no zero-points.
You can also choose a linear mode which uses a zero-point as well, which may help to get slightly better accuracy.

For more details on the parameters available in the config, see the following in the API Reference:

Quantizing weights and activations#

You can also quantize the activations of the model, in addition to the weights, to benefit from the int8-int8 compute available on the Neural Engine (NE), from iPhone 15 Pro onwards.

activation_config = cto.coreml.OptimizationConfig(

compressed_model_a8 = cto.coreml.experimental.linear_quantize_activations(
    model, activation_config, sample_data

After quantizing the activation to 8 bits, you can apply the linear_quantize_weights API specified above, to quantize the weights as well, to get an W8A8 model.

Working with PyTorch Models#

Quantizing weights#

Data free quantization#

To quantize the weights in a data free manner, use PostTrainingQuantizer, as follows:

import torch
from coremltools.optimize.torch.quantization import PostTrainingQuantizer, \

config = PostTrainingQuantizerConfig.from_dict(
        "global_config": {
            "weight_dtype": "int8",
            "granularity": "per_block",
            "block_size": 128,
        "module_type_configs": {
            torch.nn.Linear: None
quantizer = PostTrainingQuantizer(model, config)
quantized_model = quantizer.compress()
  • By specifying module_type_configs, one can specify different configs for different layer types. Here, we are setting config for linear layers to be None to de-select linear layers for quantization.

  • granularity option allows quantizing the weights at different levels of granularity, like per_block, where blocks of weights along a channel use same quantization parameters or per_channel, where all elements in a channel share the same quantization parameters. Learn more about the various config options available in PostTrainingQuantizerConfig.

Calibration data based quantization#

Use LayerwiseComressor with GPTQ algorithm, as follows:

from coremltools.optimize.torch.quantization import LayerwiseCompressor, \

config = LayerwiseCompressorConfig.from_dict(
        "global_config": {
            "algorithm": "gptq",
            "weight_dtype": 4,
            "granularity": "per_block",
            "block_size": 128,
        "input_cacher": "default",
        "calibration_nsamples": 16,

dataloader = # create a list of input tensors to be used for calibration

quantizer = LayerwiseCompressor(model, config)

compressed_model = quantizer.compress(dataloader)

Quantizing weights and activations#

Calibration data based quantization#

LinearQuantizer, as described in the next section, is an API to do quantization aware training (QAT) for quantizing activations and weights. We can also use the same API for data calibration based post training quantization to get a W8A8 model.

We use the calibration data to measure statistics of activations and weights without actually simulating quantization during model’s forward pass, and without needing to perform a backward pass. Since the weights are constant and do not change, this amounts to using round to nearest (RTN) for quantizing them.

import torch
from coremltools.optimize.torch.quantization import (

config = LinearQuantizerConfig(
        milestones=[0, 1000, 1000, 0],

quantizer = LinearQuantizer(model, config)

quantizer.prepare(example_inputs=[1, 3, 224, 224], inplace=True)

# Only step through quantizer once to enable statistics collection (milestone 0),
# and turn batch norm to inference mode (milestone 3) 

# Do a forward pass through the model with calibration data
for idx, data in enumerate(dataloader):
    with torch.no_grad():

quantized_model = quantizer.finalize()

Note that, here, we set the first and last values of the milestones parameter to 0. The first milestone turns on observes, and setting it to zero ensures that we start measuring quantization statistics from step 0. And the last milestone applies batch norm in inference mode, which means we do not use the calibration data to update the batch norm statistics. We do this because we do not want training data to influence the batch norm values. The other two milestones are used to control when fake quantization simulation is turned on and when observers are turned off. We can set them to values larger than 0 so that they are never turned on.

Quantization Aware Training (QAT)#

We use LinearQuantizer here as well, with a few extra steps, as demonstrated below.

Specify config in a YAML file:

  quantization_scheme: symmetric
    - 0
    - 100
    - 400
    - 200
  first_layer: null
  final_layer: null


# Initialize the quantizer
config = LinearQuantizerConfig.from_yaml("/path/to/yaml/config.yaml")
quantizer = LinearQuantizer(model, config)

# Prepare the model to insert FakeQuantize layers for QAT
example_input = torch.rand(1, 1, 20, 20)
model = quantizer.prepare(example_inputs=example_input, inplace=True)

# Use quantizer in your PyTorch training loop
for inputs, labels in data:
    output = model(inputs)
    loss = loss_fn(output, labels)

# Convert operations to their quantized counterparts using parameters learnt via QAT
model = quantizer.finalize(inplace=True)
  • Here, we have written the configuration as a yaml file, and used module_name_configs to specify that we do not want first and last layer to be quantized. In actual config, you would specify the exact names of the first and last layers to de-select them for quantization. This is typically useful, but not required.

  • A detailed explanation of various stages of quantization can be found in the API Reference for ModuleLinearQuantizerConfig.

In QAT, in addition to observing the values of weights and activation tensors to compute quantization parameters, we also simulate the effects of fake quantization during training. And instead of just performing forward pass on the model, we perform full training, with an optimizer. The forward and backward pass computations are conducted in float32 dtype. However, these float32 values follow the constraints imposed by int8 and quint8 dtypes, for weights and activations respectively. This allows the model weights to adjust and reduce the error introduced by quantization. Straight-Through Estimation is used for computing gradients of non-differentiable operations introduced by simulated quantization.

The LinearQuantizer algorithm is implemented as an extension of FX Graph Mode Quantization in PyTorch. It first traces the PyTorch model symbolically to obtain a torch.fx graph capturing all the operations in the model. It then analyzes this graph, and inserts FakeQuantize layers in the graph. FakeQuantize layer insertion locations are chosen such that model inference on hardware is optimized and only weights and activations which benefit from quantization are quantized.

Since the prepare method uses prepare_qat_fx to insert quantization layers, the model returned from the method is a torch.fx.GraphModule, and as a result custom methods defined on the original model class may not be available on the returned model. Some models, like those with dynamic control flow, may not be traceable into a torch.fx.GraphModule. We recommend following the instructions in Limitations of Symbolic Tracing and FX Graph Mode Quantization User Guide to update your model first, before using LinearQuantizer algorithm.

Converting quantized PyTorch models to Core ML#

You can convert your PyTorch model, once it has been quantized, as you would a normal PyTorch model:

# Convert the PyTorch models to CoreML format
traced_model = torch.jit.trace(model, example_input)
coreml_model = ct.convert(

Note that you need to use minimum_deployment_target >= iOS17 when activations are also quantized.