Vectorization and Loops


Using this option enables parallelization for both Intel® microprocessors and non-Intel microprocessors. The resulting executable may get additional performance gain on Intel® microprocessors than on non-Intel microprocessors. The parallelization can also be affected by certain options, such as /arch (Windows* OS), -m (Linux*OS and OS X*), or [Q]x.


Using this option enables vectorization at default optimization levels for both Intel® microprocessors and non-Intel microprocessors. Vectorization may call library routines that can result in additional performance gain on Intel® microprocessors than on non-Intel microprocessors. The vectorization can also be affected by certain options, such as /arch (Windows* OS), -m (Linux*OS and OS X*), or [Q]x.

Interactions with Loop Parallelization

Combine the [Q]parallel and [Q]x options to instruct the compiler to attempt both Auto-Parallelization and automatic loop vectorization in the same compilation.

In most cases, the compiler will consider outermost loops for parallelization and innermost loops for vectorization. If deemed profitable, however, the compiler may even apply loop parallelization and vectorization to the same loop.

See Programming with Auto-parallelization and Programming Guidelines for Vectorization.

In some rare cases, a successful loop parallelization (either automatically or by means of OpenMP* directives) may affect the messages reported by the compiler for a non-vectorizable loop in a non-intuitive way; for example, in the cases where the [Q]vec-report2 option indicating loops were not successfully vectorized.

Statements in the Loop Body

The vectorizable operations are different for floating-point and integer data.

Integer Array Operations

The statements within the loop body may be arithmetic or logical operations (again, typically for arrays). Arithmetic operations are limited to such operations as addition, subtraction, ABS, MIN, and MAX. Logical operations include bitwise AND, OR, and XOR operators. You can mix data types but this may potentially cost you in terms of lowering efficiency.

Other Operations

No statements other than the preceding floating-point and integer operations are valid. The loop body cannot contain any function calls other than the ones described above.

Data Dependency

Data dependency 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 dependency analysis.

An example where data dependencies prohibit vectorization is shown below. In this example, the value of each element of an array is dependent on the value of its neighbor that was computed in the previous iteration.

Example 1: Data-dependent Loop

subroutine dep(data, n)
  real :: data(n)
  integer :: i
 do i = 1, n-1
    data(i) = data(i-1)*0.25 + data(i)*0.5 + data(i+1)*0.25
  end do 
end subroutine dep
int i;
void dep(float *data){
  for (i=1; i<100; i++){
   data[i] = data[i-1]*0.25 + data[i]*0.5 + data[i+1]*0.25;

The loop in the above 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 below.

Example 1: Data-dependency Vectorization Patterns

I=1: READ DATA(0) 
I=2: READ DATA(1) 

In the normal sequential version of this loop, the value of DATA(1) read from during the second iteration was written to in the first iteration. For vectorization, it must be possible to do the iterations in parallel, without changing the semantics of the original loop.

Example 2: Data Independent Loop
for(i=0; i<100; i++) 
//which has the following access pattern 
read b[0] 
write a[0] 
read b[1] 
write a[1]

Data Dependency Analysis

Data dependency 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

The data dependency analyzer for array references is organized as a series of tests, which progressively increase in power as well as in time and space costs.

First, a number of simple tests are performed in a dimension-by-dimension manner, since independency in any dimension will exclude any dependency relationship. Multidimensional 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 that can be used are the fast greatest common divisor (GCD) test and the extended bounds test. The GCD test proves independency if the GCD of the coefficients of loop indices cannot evenly divide the constant term. The extended bounds test checks for potential overlap of the extreme values in subscript expressions.

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

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.