Importing and hosting an ONNX model with MXNet

The Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) is an open format for representing deep learning models with its extensible computation graph model and definitions of built-in operators and standard data types.

In this example, we will use the Super Resolution model from Image Super-Resolution Using Deep Convolutional Networks, where Dong et al. trained a model for taking a low-resolution image as input and producing a high-resolution one. This model, along with many others, can be found at the ONNX Model Zoo.

We will use the SageMaker Python SDK to host this ONNX model in SageMaker, and perform inference requests.


First, we’ll get the IAM execution role from our notebook environment, so that SageMaker can access resources in your AWS account later in the example.

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from sagemaker import get_execution_role

role = get_execution_role()

The hosting script

We’ll need to provide a hosting script that can run on the SageMaker platform. This script will be invoked by SageMaker when we perform inference.

The script we’re using here implements two functions:

  • model_fn() - the SageMaker model server uses this function to load the model

  • transform_fn() - this function is for using the model to take the input and produce the output

The script here is an adaptation of the ONNX Super Resolution example provided by the Apache MXNet project.

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Preparing the model

To create a SageMaker Endpoint, we’ll first need to prepare the model to be used in SageMaker.

Downloading the model

For this example, we will use a pre-trained ONNX model from the ONNX Model Zoo, where you can find a collection of pre-trained models to work with. Here, we will download the Super Resolution model.

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Compressing the model data

Now that we have the model data locally, we will need to compress it and upload the tarball to S3 for the SageMaker Python SDK to create a Model

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import tarfile

from sagemaker.session import Session

with"onnx_model.tar.gz", mode="w:gz") as archive:

model_data = Session().upload_data(path="onnx_model.tar.gz", key_prefix="model")

Creating a SageMaker Python SDK Model instance

With the model data uploaded to S3, we now have everything we need to instantiate a SageMaker Python SDK Model. We’ll provide the constructor the following arguments:

  • model_data: the S3 location of the model data

  • entry_point: the script for model hosting that we looked at above

  • role: the IAM role used

  • framework_version: the MXNet version in use

You can read more about creating an MXNetModel object in the SageMaker Python SDK API docs.

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from sagemaker.mxnet import MXNetModel

mxnet_model = MXNetModel(

Creating an Endpoint

Now we can use our MXNetModel object to build and deploy an MXNetPredictor. This creates a SageMaker Model and Endpoint, the latter of which we can use for performing inference.

The arguments to the deploy() function allow us to set the number and type of instances that will be used for the Endpoint. Here we will deploy the model to a single ml.m5.xlarge instance.

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predictor = mxnet_model.deploy(initial_instance_count=1, instance_type="ml.m5.xlarge")

Performing inference

With our Endpoint deployed, we can now send inference requests to it. We’ll use one image as an example here.

Preparing the image

First, we’ll download the image (and view it).

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from IPython.display import Image as Img
from mxnet.test_utils import download

img_name = "super_res_input.jpg"
img_url = "{}".format(img_name)
download(img_url, img_name)


Next, we’ll resize it to be 224x224 pixels. In addition, we’ll use a grayscale version of the image (or, more accurately, taking the ‘Y’ channel after converting it to YCbCr) to match the images that were used for training the model.

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import numpy as np
from PIL import Image

input_image_dim = 224
img =, input_image_dim))

img_ycbcr = img.convert("YCbCr")
img_y, img_cb, img_cr = img_ycbcr.split()
input_image = np.array(img_y)[np.newaxis, np.newaxis, :, :]

Sending the inference request

We’ll now call predict() on our predictor to use our model to create a bigger image from the input image.

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out = predictor.predict(input_image)

Viewing the result

Now we’ll look at the resulting image from our inference request. First we’ll convert it and save it.

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img_out_y = Image.fromarray(np.uint8(np.asarray(out)), mode="L")
result_img = Image.merge(
        img_cb.resize(img_out_y.size, Image.BICUBIC),
        img_cr.resize(img_out_y.size, Image.BICUBIC),
output_img_dim = 672
assert result_img.size == (output_img_dim, output_img_dim)

result_img_file = "output.jpg"

And now we’ll look at the image itself. We can see that it is indeed a larger version of the image we started with.

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For comparison, we can look at the original image simply resized, without using the model. The lack of detail in this version is especially noticeable with the dog’s fur.

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naive_output =, output_img_dim))

naive_output_file = "naive_output.jpg"


Deleting the Endpoint

Since we’ve reached the end, we’ll delete the SageMaker Endpoint to release the instance associated with it.

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