Developer Guide and Reference


Overview: Intrinsics to Convert Half Float Types

The half-float or 16-bit float is a popular type in some application domains. The half-float type is regarded as a storage type because although data is often stored as a half-float, computation is never done on values in these type. Usually values are converted to regular 32-bit floats before any computation.
Support for half-float type is restricted to just conversions to/from 32-bit floats. The main benefits of using half float type are:
  • reduced storage requirements
  • less consumption of memory bandwidth and cache
  • accuracy and precision adequate for many applications

Half Float Intrinsics

The half-float intrinsics are provided to convert half-float values to 32-bit floats for computation purposes and conversely, 32-bit float values to half-float values for data storage purposes.
The intrinsics are translated into library calls that do the actual conversions.
The half-float intrinsics are available on IA-32 and Intel® 64 architectures running supported operating systems. The minimum processor requirement is an Intel® Pentium 4 processor and an operating system supporting Intel® Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (Intel® SSE2) instructions.

Role of Immediate Byte in Half Float Intrinsic Operations

For all half-float intrinsics an immediate byte controls rounding mode, flush to zero, and other non-volatile set values. The format of the
byte is as shown in the diagram below.
value is used for special
In the diagram,
  • MBZ = Most significant Bit is Zero; used for error checking
  • MS1 = 1 : use MXCSR RC, else use imm8.RC
  • SAE = 1 : all exceptions are suppressed
  • MS2 = 1 : use MXCSR FTZ/DAZ control, else use imm8.FTZ/DAZ.
The compiler passes the bits to the library function, with error checking - the most significant bit must be zero.

Product and Performance Information


Intel's compilers may or may not optimize to the same degree for non-Intel microprocessors for optimizations that are not unique to Intel microprocessors. These optimizations include SSE2, SSE3, and SSSE3 instruction sets and other optimizations. Intel does not guarantee the availability, functionality, or effectiveness of any optimization on microprocessors not manufactured by Intel. Microprocessor-dependent optimizations in this product are intended for use with Intel microprocessors. Certain optimizations not specific to Intel microarchitecture are reserved for Intel microprocessors. Please refer to the applicable product User and Reference Guides for more information regarding the specific instruction sets covered by this notice.

Notice revision #20110804