Vectorization Key Programming Guidelines

The goal of vectorizing compilers is to exploit single-instruction multiple data (SIMD) processing automatically. Review these guidelines and restrictions, see code examples in further topics, and check them against your code to eliminate ambiguities that prevent the compiler from achieving optimal vectorization.

Guidelines for loop bodies:

Avoid the following in loop bodies:

Preparing your code for vectorization

To make your code vectorizable, you will often need to make some changes to your loops. However, you should make only the changes needed to enable vectorization and no others. In particular, you should avoid these common changes:


Hardware. The compiler is limited by restrictions imposed by the underlying hardware. In the case of Streaming SIMD Extensions, the vector memory operations are limited to stride-1 accesses with a preference to 16-byte-aligned memory references. This means that if the compiler abstractly recognizes a loop as vectorizable, it still might not vectorize it for a distinct target architecture.

Style. The style in which you write source code can inhibit optimization. For example, a common problem with global pointers is that they often prevent the compiler from being able to prove two memory references at distinct locations. Consequently, this prevents certain reordering transformations.

Many stylistic issues that prevent automatic vectorization by compilers are found in loop structures. The ambiguity arises from the complexity of the keywords, operators, data references, and memory operations within the loop bodies.

However, by understanding these limitations and by knowing how to interpret diagnostic messages, you can modify your program to overcome the known limitations and enable effective vectorizations. The following topics summarize the capabilities and restrictions of the vectorizer with respect to loop structures.