Predict on Binary Inputs via TensorFlow Serving API#


TensorFlow Serving API allows sending the model input data in a variety of formats inside the TensorProto objects. Array data is passed inside the tensor_content field, which represents the input data buffer.

When the data is sent in the string_val field to the model or pipeline that have 4 (or 5 in case of demultiplexing) shape dimensions, such input is interpreted as a binary encoded image.

Note, that while the model metadata reports the inputs shape with layout NHWC, the binary data must be sent with shape: [N] with dtype: DT_STRING. Where N represents number of images converted to string bytes.

When sending data in the array format, all bytes are in the same sequence in tensor_content field and when loaded on the server side, the shape gives information on how to interpret them. For binary encoded data, bytes for each image in the batch are put in a separate sequence in the string_val field. The only information given by the tensor_shape field is the amount of images in the batch. On the server side, the bytes in each element of the string_val field are loaded, resized to match model input shape and converted to the OpenVINO-friendly array format by OpenCV.


TensorFlow Serving API also allows sending encoded images via HTTP interface to the model or pipeline that have 4 (or 5 in case of demultiplexing) shape dimensions. The binary data needs to be Base64 encoded and put into inputs or instances field as a map in form:

<input_name>: {"b64":<Base64 encoded data>}

On the server side, the Base64 encoded data is decoded to raw binary and loaded using OpenCV which then converts it to OpenVINO-friendly data format for inference.

API Reference#

Usage examples#

Sample clients that use binary inputs via TFS API can be found here (REST sample)/(GRPC sample) Also, see the (README)


Sending the data in binary format can significantly simplify the client code and it’s preprocessing load. With the REST API client, only curl and base64 tool or the requests python package is needed. In case the original input data is jpeg or png encoded, there is no preprocessing needed to send the request.

Binary data can significantly reduce the network utilization. In many cases it allows reducing the latency and achieve very high throughput even with slower network bandwidth.