Inference with Hugging Face and Optimum Intel

The steps below show how to load and infer LLMs from Hugging Face using Optimum Intel. They also show how to convert models into OpenVINO IR format so they can be optimized by NNCF and used with other OpenVINO tools.


  • Create a Python environment by following the instructions on the Install OpenVINO PIP page.

  • Install the necessary dependencies for Optimum Intel:

pip install optimum[openvino,nncf]

Loading a Hugging Face Model to Optimum Intel

To start using OpenVINO as a backend for Hugging Face, change the original Hugging Face code in two places:

-from transformers import AutoModelForCausalLM
+from import OVModelForCausalLM
model_id = "meta-llama/Llama-2-7b-chat-hf"
-model = AutoModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(model_id)
+model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(model_id, export=True)

Instead of using AutoModelForCasualLM from the Hugging Face transformers library, switch to OVModelForCasualLM from the library. This change enables you to use OpenVINO’s optimization features. You may also use other AutoModel types, such as OVModelForSeq2SeqLM, though this guide will focus on CausalLM.

By setting the parameter export=True, the model is converted to OpenVINO IR format on the fly.

It is recommended to save model to disk after conversion using save_pretrained() and loading it from disk at deployment time via from_pretrained() for better efficiency.


This will create a new folder called ov_model with the LLM in OpenVINO IR format inside. You can change the folder and provide another model directory instead of ov_model.

Once the model is saved, you can load it with the following command:

model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained("ov_model")

Converting a Hugging Face Model to OpenVINO IR

The optimum-cli tool allows you to convert models from Hugging Face to the OpenVINO IR format:

optimum-cli export openvino --model <MODEL_NAME> <NEW_MODEL_NAME>

If you want to convert the Llama 2 model from Hugging Face to an OpenVINO IR model and name it ov_llama_2, the command would look like this:

optimum-cli export openvino --model meta-llama/Llama-2-7b-chat-hf ov_llama_2

In this case, you can load the converted model in OpenVINO representation directly from the disk:

model_id = "llama_openvino"
model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(model_id)

Optimum-Intel API also provides out-of-the-box model optimization through weight compression using NNCF which substantially reduces the model footprint and inference latency:

optimum-cli export openvino --model meta-llama/Llama-2-7b-chat-hf --weight-format int8 ov_llama_2
model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(model_id, export=True, load_in_8bit=True)

# or if the model has been already converted
model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(model_path, load_in_8bit=True)

# save the model after optimization

Weight compression is applied by default to models larger than one billion parameters and is also available for CLI interface as the --int8 option.


8-bit weight compression is enabled by default for models larger than 1 billion parameters.

Optimum Intel also provides 4-bit weight compression with OVWeightQuantizationConfig class to control weight quantization parameters.

optimum-cli export openvino --model meta-llama/Llama-2-7b-chat-hf --weight-format int4 ov_llama_2
from import OVModelForCausalLM, OVWeightQuantizationConfig
import nncf

model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(

# or if the model has been already converted
model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(

# use custom parameters for weight quantization
model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(
    quantization_config=OVWeightQuantizationConfig(bits=4, asym=True, ratio=0.8, dataset="ptb"),

# save the model after optimization


Optimum-Intel has a predefined set of weight quantization parameters for popular models, such as meta-llama/Llama-2-7b or Qwen/Qwen-7B-Chat. These parameters are used by default only when bits=4 is specified in the config.

For more details on compression options, refer to the weight compression guide.

OpenVINO also supports 4-bit models from Hugging Face Transformers library optimized with GPTQ. In this case, there is no need for an additional model optimization step because model conversion will automatically preserve the INT4 optimization results, allowing model inference to benefit from it.

Below are some examples of using Optimum-Intel for model conversion and inference:


Optimum-Intel can be used for other generative AI models. See Stable Diffusion v2.1 using Optimum-Intel OpenVINO and Image generation with Stable Diffusion XL and OpenVINO for more examples.

Inference Example

For Hugging Face models, the AutoTokenizer and the pipeline function are used to create an inference pipeline. This setup allows for easy text processing and model interaction:

from import OVModelForCausalLM
# new imports for inference
from transformers import AutoTokenizer
# load the model
model_id = "meta-llama/Llama-2-7b-chat-hf"
model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(model_id, export=True)
# inference
prompt = "The weather is:"
tokenizer = AutoTokenizer.from_pretrained(model_id)
inputs = tokenizer(prompt, return_tensors="pt")
outputs = model.generate(**inputs, max_new_tokens=50)
print(tokenizer.decode(outputs[0], skip_special_tokens=True))


Converting LLMs on the fly every time to OpenVINO IR is a resource intensive task. It is a good practice to convert the model once, save it in a folder and load it for inference.

By default, inference will run on CPU. To select a different inference device, for example, GPU, add device="GPU" to the from_pretrained() call. To switch to a different device after the model has been loaded, use the .to() method. The device naming convention is the same as in OpenVINO native API:"GPU")

Enabling OpenVINO Runtime Optimizations

OpenVINO runtime provides a set of optimizations for more efficient LLM inference. This includes Dynamic quantization of activations of 4/8-bit quantized MatMuls and KV-cache quantization.

  • Dynamic quantization enables quantization of activations of MatMul operations that have 4 or 8-bit quantized weights (see LLM Weight Compression). It improves inference latency and throughput of LLMs, though it may cause insignificant deviation in generation accuracy. Quantization is performed in a group-wise manner, with configurable group size. It means that values in a group share quantization parameters. Larger group sizes lead to faster inference but lower accuracy. Recommended group size values are 32, 64, or 128. To enable Dynamic quantization, use the corresponding inference property as follows:

    model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(
  • KV-cache quantization allows lowering the precision of Key and Value cache in LLMs. This helps reduce memory consumption during inference, improving latency and throughput. KV-cache can be quantized into the following precisions: u8, bf16, f16. If u8 is used, KV-cache quantization is also applied in a group-wise manner. Thus, it can use DYNAMIC_QUANTIZATION_GROUP_SIZE value if defined. Otherwise, the group size 32 is used by default. KV-cache quantization can be enabled as follows:

    model = OVModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(


Currently, both Dynamic quantization and KV-cache quantization are available for CPU device.

Working with Models Tuned with LoRA

Low-rank Adaptation (LoRA) is a popular method to tune Generative AI models to a downstream task or custom data. However, it requires some extra steps to be done for efficient deployment using the Hugging Face API. Namely, the trained adapters should be fused into the baseline model to avoid extra computation. This is how it can be done for LLMs:

model_id = "meta-llama/Llama-2-7b-chat-hf"
lora_adaptor = "./lora_adaptor"
model = AutoModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(model_id, use_cache=True)
model = PeftModelForCausalLM.from_pretrained(model, lora_adaptor)

Now the model can be converted to OpenVINO using Optimum Intel Python API or CLI interfaces mentioned above.