Instruction Set Specific Dispatching on Intel® Architectures

Intel MKL automatically queries and then dispatches the code path supported on your Intel® processor to the optimal instruction set architecture (ISA) by default. The MKL_ENABLE_INSTRUCTIONS environment variable or the mkl_enable_instructions support function enables you to dispatch to an ISA-specific code path of your choice. For example, you can run the Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) code path on an Intel processor based on Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (Intel® AVX2), or you can run the Intel® Streaming SIMD Extensions 4.2 (Intel® SSE4.2) code path on an Intel AVX-enabled Intel processor. This feature is not available on non-Intel processors.

In some cases Intel MKL also provides support for upcoming architectures ahead of hardware availability, but the library does not automatically dispatch the code path specific to an upcoming ISA by default. If for your exploratory work you need to enable an ISA for an Intel processor that is not yet released or if you are working in a simulated environment, you can use the MKL_ENABLE_INSTRUCTIONS environment variable or mkl_enable_instructions support function.

The following table lists possible values of MKL_ENABLE_INSTRUCTIONS alongside the corresponding ISA supported by a given processor. MKL_ENABLE_INSTRUCTIONS dispatches to the default ISA if the ISA requested is not supported on the particular Intel processor. For example, if you request to run the Intel AVX512 code path on a processor based on Intel AVX2, Intel MKL runs the Intel AVX2 code path. The table also explains whether the ISA is dispatched by default on the processor that supports this ISA.

Value of


Dispatched by Default


Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX-512) for systems based on Intel® Xeon® processors



Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX-512) with support for Vector Neural Network Instructions.



Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX-512) for systems based on Intel® Xeon Phi™ processors



Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel® AVX-512) for Intel® Many Integrated Core Architecture (Intel® MIC Architecture) with support for AVX512_4FMAPS and AVX512_4VNNIW instruction groups enabled processors



Intel® AVX2



Intel® AVX



Intel® SSE4.2


For more details about the mkl_enable_instructions function, including the argument values, see the Intel MKL Developer Reference.

For example:

  • To turn on automatic CPU-based dispatching of Intel AVX-512 with support of AVX512_4FMAPS and AVX512_4VNNI instruction groups on systems based on Intel Xeon Phi processors, do one of the following:
    • Call


    • Set the environment variable:

      • For the bash shell:


      • For a C shell (csh or tcsh):


  • To configure the library not to dispatch more recent architectures than Intel AVX2, do one of the following:
    • Call


    • Set the environment variable:

      • For the bash shell:


      • For a C shell (csh or tcsh):



Settings specified by the mkl_enable_instructions function take precedence over the settings specified by the MKL_ENABLE_INSTRUCTIONS environment variable.

Optimization Notice

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

For more complete information about compiler optimizations, see our Optimization Notice.
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