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An Introduction to the Mamba LLM Architecture: A New Paradigm in Machine Learning

Discover the power of Mamba LLM, a transformative architecture from leading universities, redefining sequence processing in AI.
Mar 2024  · 9 min read

Language models are a type of machine learning model trained to perform a probability distribution over natural language. Their architecture primarily consists of multiple layers of neural networks, such as recurrent layers, feedforward layers, embedding layers, and attention layers. These layers combine to process a given input text and generate output predictions.

In late 2023, researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Princeton University published a research paper that revealed a new architecture for Large Language Models (LLMs) called Mamba. Mamba is a new state space model architecture concerned with sequence modeling. It was developed to address some limitations of transformer models, especially in processing long sequences, and has been showing promising performance.

Let’s explore Mamba LLM architecture and its significance in machine learning.

What is Mamba?

Mamba is a new LLM architecture that integrates the Structured State Space sequence (S4) model to manage lengthy data sequences. Combining the best features of recurrent, convolutional, and continuous-time models, S4 can effectively and efficiently simulate long-term dependencies. This allows it to handle irregularly sampled data, have unbounded context, and maintain computational efficiency throughout training and testing.

Expanding upon the S4 paradigm, Mamba brings about several noteworthy improvements, especially in handling time-variant operations. Its architecture revolves around a special selection mechanism that modifies the structured state space model (SSM) parameters according to the input.

As a result, Mamba may successfully filter out less important data by focusing only on crucial information within sequences. According to Wikipedia, "The model transitions from a time-invariant to a time-varying framework, which impacts both the computation and efficiency of the system."

Key Features and Innovations

Mamba's deviation from conventional attention and MLP blocks set it apart. This simplification results in a model that is lighter, faster, and scales linearly with the length of the sequence, which is a feat not achieved by any of its predecessors.

The key components of Mamba include:

  • Selective-State-Spaces (SSM): Recurrent models, which process information selectively depending on the current input, are the foundation of Mamba SSMs. This enables them to filter out extraneous data and concentrate on pertinent information, which may result in more efficient processing.
  • Simplified Architecture: Mamba replaces Transformers' intricate attention and MLP blocks with a single, cohesive SSM block. This seeks to accelerate inference and lower computational complexity.
  • Hardware-Aware Parallelism: Mamba may perform even better because it uses a recurrent mode with a parallel algorithm created especially for hardware efficiency.

Another key component is Linear Time Invariance (LTI); LTI is one of the core features of S4 models. This characteristic suggests that the model's parameters stay constant throughout all timesteps, maintaining consistency in the model's dynamics. Building sequence models is easier and more effective with LTI, which is the foundation of recurrence and convolutions.

Mamba LLM Architecture Details

The architecture of Mamba further emphasizes the significance of the advancements made in machine learning. It modifies how models process sequences by introducing a selected state space model (SSM) layer. This enables Mamba to do two extremely important things:

  1. Focus on relevant information – Mamba can prioritize more predictive data for the task by assigning a different weight to each input.
  1. Dynamically adapt to inputs – Due to the model's ability to adapt to input, Mamba can easily handle various sequence modeling jobs.

As a result, Mamba can handle sequences with previously unheard-of efficiency, which makes it the perfect choice for tasks involving lengthy data sequences.

Mamba's design philosophy is based on an awareness of contemporary hardware capabilities. It is designed to make complete use of GPU computing power, guaranteeing:

  • Optimized Memory Usage: Reduced data transmission times and faster processing are achieved by designing Mamba's state expansion to fit inside GPUs' high-bandwidth memory (HBM).
  • Maximized Parallel Processing: Mamba reaches a performance level that establishes a new benchmark for sequence models by coordinating its calculations with the parallel nature of GPU computing.

Mamba vs Transformers

The introduction of Transformers, such as GPT-4, took the field of natural language processing (NLP) and established benchmarks for several natural language tasks. Longer sequences have long been a thorn in the side of transformers as they significantly hamper their efficiency.

This deficiency is where Mamba excels. Namely, mamba can process lengthy sequences more quickly than transformers and does so more simply due to its unique architecture.

Transformer architecture

Transformers are highly skilled at working with data sequences, such as text for language models. They process complete sequences simultaneously, unlike earlier models that processed data sequentially. This innate feature allows them to capture intricate relationships within the data.

They use an attention mechanism that enables the model to concentrate on various sequence segments while generating predictions. Three sets of weights are used to calculate this attention: values, keys, and queries that are obtained from the input data.

Every element in a sequence is weighed in relation to every other element to indicate how much weight—or "attention"—it should have to forecast the next element in the series.

Transformers comprise two primary blocks: the decoder, which creates the output, and the encoder, which processes the input data.

The encoder consists of several layers – each with two sub-layers: a basic, position-wise, fully connected feed-forward network and a multi-head self-attention mechanism. To aid in training deep networks, residual connections and normalization are used at each sub-layer.

Like the encoder, the decoder consists of two layers with two sub-layers, but it also adds a third sub-layer that handles multi-head attention over the encoder's output. The autoregressive property of the decoder is preserved due to the decoder's sequential nature, which limits predictions for a position to only take into account earlier positions.

Thus, Transformers attempts to address the problem of lengthy sequences by utilizing more intricate attention processes, but Mamba takes a different approach.

Mamba architecture

Mamba takes advantage of selective state spaces. This method solves Transformers' computing inefficiencies with long sequences.

Mamba's architecture makes faster inference and linear sequence length scaling possible, creating a new paradigm for sequence modeling that may prove more effective as sequences get longer.

Since we went in-depth with Mamba’s architecture above, we won’t get into it here.

Here’s a graph from Wikipedia to better conceptualize how Mamba and Transformers compare:










Inference Speed



Training Speed



It's worth noting that, despite the many advantages that SSMs have over Transformers, the latter can handle much longer sequences than SSMs can store in memory, require far less data to learn similar tasks, and outperform SSMs in tasks requiring retrieval from or copying of the input context, even with fewer parameters. 

Getting Started with Mamba

If you’re interested in playing around Mamba or leveraging it in a project, you must have the following:

  • Linux
  • PyTorch 1.12+
  • CUDA 11.6+

To install the required packages from the Mamba repository, use a few straightforward pip instructions:

  • [Option] pip install causal-conv1d>=1.2.0: an efficient implementation of a simple causal Conv1d layer used inside the Mamba block.
  • pip install mamba-ssm: the core Mamba package.

It can also be built from source with pip install . from this repository.

If PyTorch versions cause compatibility problems, pip can be used with the --no-build-isolation switch to help. These models were trained on large datasets such as the Pile and the SlimPajama datasets and were built to meet various computing requirements and performance benchmarks.

The Mamba model has several interface levels, but the main module is the Mamba architecture block that wraps the selective SSM.

Once everything is installed, it can be used as follows:

# Source: Mamba Repository
import torch
from mamba_ssm import Mamba

batch, length, dim = 2, 64, 16
x = torch.randn(batch, length, dim).to("cuda")
model = Mamba(
    # This module uses roughly 3 * expand * d_model^2 parameters
    d_model=dim, # Model dimension d_model
    d_state=16,  # SSM state expansion factor
    d_conv=4,    # Local convolution width
    expand=2,    # Block expansion factor
y = model(x)
assert y.shape == x.shape

Applications of Mamba

The introduction of Mamba LLM is a significant potential shift in the LLM architecture space. Faster, more efficient, and scalable, Mamba effortlessly handles long sequences with high-performance standards, which explains why it’s set to play a critical role in shaping the future of sophisticated AI systems.

Namely, the next wave of AI innovations may be brought about by the effectiveness and performance of Mamba, which paves the way for the creation of increasingly complex models and applications. Its potential influence is enormous, encompassing audio and speech processing applications, long-form text analysis, content creation, real-time language translation, and more.

Industries this could revolutionize include:

  • Healthcare: Mamba may speed up the process of developing personalized health medicines by rapidly analyzing genetic data.
  • Finance: Mamba may be deployed to analyze long-term market trends, resulting in more accurate stock forecasts.
  • Customer Service: Mamba has the ability to power chatbots that monitor long-form discussions, thereby improving client communications.

The Road Ahead for Mamba

Mamba stands out as an innovative beacon pointing the way toward new opportunities for addressing complex sequence modeling problems. Its debut is a step towards more intelligent, scalable, and efficient systems that can comprehend and handle sequences with never-before-seen depth.

Though Mamba has proven to be a significant technical milestone, its success does not solely depend on its technological capabilities – collaborative research, shared resources, and open-source contributions all play an essential role:

  • Open-Source Contributions: More resilient and adaptable models may result from encouraging researchers and developers to contribute to the Mamba codebase.
  • Shared Resources: The community can accelerate progress by pooling its knowledge and resources and sharing pre-trained models.
  • Collaborative Research: Collaborations between academic institutions and businesses can expand Mamba's capabilities.


Mamba doesn’t just provide an incremental improvement to current sequence models; it redefines what's possible. With its introduction, the history of artificial intelligence will witness a new chapter in which computing inefficiencies and sequence length restrictions are finally becoming obsolete.

Over the past few years, we have seen the evolution of AI from RNNs to Transformers and now Mamba, each step closer to realizing AI capable of deep thinking and information processing comparable to humans. Mamba embodies the revolutionary spirit that propels the field of AI forward with its selected state space approach and linear-time scaling.

Mamba marks the start of a promising development in artificial intelligence. It's a paradigm designed for the future and set to impact AI significantly with its limitless potential.

To continue your learning, check out:

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