Introduction to Databricks Runtime for Machine Learning

Databricks Runtime for Machine Learning (Databricks Runtime ML) provides pre-built machine learning infrastructure that is integrated with all of the capabilities of the Databricks workspace. Each version of Databricks Runtime ML is built on the corresponding version of Databricks Runtime. For example, Databricks Runtime 12.2 LTS for Machine Learning is built on Databricks Runtime 12.2 LTS.

For details about the capabilities of each version of Databricks Runtime ML, including the full list of included libraries, see the release notes.

Why use Databricks Runtime for Machine Learning?

Databricks Runtime ML automates the creation of a cluster optimized for machine learning. Some of the advantages of using Databricks Runtime ML clusters include:

  • Built-in popular machine learning libraries, such as TensorFlow, PyTorch, Keras, and XGBoost.

  • Built-in distributed training libraries, such as Horovod.

  • Compatible versions of installed libraries.

  • Pre-configured GPU support including drivers and supporting libraries.

  • Faster cluster creation.

With Databricks, you can use any library to create the logic to train your model. The preconfigured Databricks Runtime ML makes it possible to easily scale common machine learning and deep learning steps.

Databricks Runtime ML also includes all of the capabilities of the Databricks workspace, such as:

  • Data exploration, management, and governance.

  • Cluster creation and management.

  • Library and environment management.

  • Code management with Databricks Repos.

  • Automation support including Delta Live Tables, Databricks Jobs, and APIs.

  • Integrated MLflow for model development tracking, model deployment and serving, and real-time inference.

For complete information about using Databricks for machine learning and deep learning, see Introduction to Databricks Machine Learning.


If you require HIPAA compliance, see HIPAA compliance features.

Libraries included in Databricks Runtime ML

The Databricks Runtime ML includes a variety of popular ML libraries. The libraries are updated with each release to include new features and fixes.

Databricks has designated a subset of the supported libraries as top-tier libraries. For these libraries, Databricks provides a faster update cadence, updating to the latest package releases with each runtime release (barring dependency conflicts). Databricks also provides advanced support, testing, and embedded optimizations for top-tier libraries.

For a full list of top-tier and other provided libraries, see the release notes for Databricks Runtime ML.

Create a cluster using Databricks Runtime ML

When you create a cluster, select a Databricks Runtime ML version from the Databricks runtime version drop-down menu. Both CPU and GPU-enabled ML runtimes are available.

Select Databricks Runtime ML

If you select a cluster from the drop-down menu in the notebook, the Databricks Runtime version appears at the right of the cluster name:

View Databricks Runtime ML version

If you select a GPU-enabled ML runtime, you are prompted to select a compatible Driver type and Worker type. Incompatible instance types are grayed out in the drop-down menu. GPU-enabled instance types are listed under the GPU accelerated label.


To access data in Unity Catalog for machine learning workflows, the access mode for the cluster must be single user (assigned). Shared clusters are not compatible with Databricks Runtime for Machine Learning.

Manage Python packages

Databricks Runtime ML differs from Databricks Runtime in how you manage Python packages. In Databricks Runtime ML, the virtualenv package manager is used to install Python packages. All Python packages are installed inside a single environment: /databricks/python3.

For information on managing Python libraries, see Libraries.

Support for automated machine learning

Databricks Runtime ML includes tools to automate the model development process and help you efficiently find the best performing model.

  • AutoML automatically creates, tunes, and evaluates a set of models and creates a Python notebook with the source code for each run so you can review, reproduce, and modify the code.

  • Managed MLflow manages the end-to-end model lifecycle, including tracking experimental runs, deploying and sharing models, and maintaining a centralized model registry.

  • Hyperopt, augmented with the SparkTrials class, automates and distributes ML model parameter tuning.


Databricks Runtime ML is not supported on: