Data dependence relations represent the required ordering constraints on the operations in serial loops. Because vectorization rearranges the order in which operations are executed, any auto-vectorizer must have at its disposal some form of data dependence analysis. The "Data-dependent Loop" example shows some code that exhibits data dependence. The value of each element of an array is dependent on itself and its two neighbors.

float data[N]; int i;
for (i=1; i<N-1; i++) { data[i]=data[i-1]*0.25+data[i]*0.5+data[i+1]*0.25; } |

The loop in this example is not vectorizable because the write to the current element data[i] is dependent on the use of the preceding element data[i-1], which has already been written to and changed in the previous iteration. To see this, look at the access patterns of the array for the first two iterations as shown in the following example:

for(i=0; i<100; i++) a[i]=b[i]; has access pattern read b[0] write a[0] read b[1] write a[1] i=1: READ data[0] READ data[1] READ data[2] WRITE data[1] i=2: READ data[1] READ data[2] READ data[3] WRITE data[2] |

In the normal sequential version of the loop shown, the value of data[1] read during the second iteration was written into the first iteration. For vectorization, the iterations must be done in parallel, without changing the semantics of the original loop.

Data dependence analysis involves finding the conditions under which two memory accesses may overlap. Given two references in a program, the conditions are defined by:

- whether the referenced variables may be aliases for the same (or overlapping) regions in memory,
- for array references, the relationship between the subscripts.

For array references, the Intel® C++ Compiler's data dependence analyzer is organized as a series of tests that progressively increase in power as well as time and space costs. First, a number of simple tests are performed in a dimension-by-dimension manner, since independence in any dimension will exclude any dependence relationship. Multi-dimensional arrays references that may cross their declared dimension boundaries can be converted to their linearized form before the tests are applied. Some of the simple tests used are the fast GCD test, proving independence if the greatest common divisor of the coefficients of loop indices cannot evenly divide the constant term, and the extended bounds test, which tests potential overlap for the extreme values of subscript expressions.

If all simple tests fail to prove independence, the compiler will eventually resort to a powerful hierarchical dependence solver that uses Fourier-Motzkin elimination to solve the data dependence problem in all dimensions.