Overview: Intel® Graphics Technology

This topic only applies to Intel® 64 and IA-32 architectures targeting Intel® Graphics Technology.

In many models of Intel processors that include Intel® Graphics Technology, you can offload a reasonable amount of parallelizable work. When compiling, the Intel® C++ Compiler facilitates offloading existing scalar or parallel C/C++ code written for the CPU to the processor graphics. In many cases, you can enable this offloading by adding a minimal amount of code.

Architecture and OS support for offloading to processor graphics is shown in the following table:

Build Architecture and OS

Executing Architecture and OS, for processors with Intel® Graphics Technology

Intel® 64, Linux*

Intel® 64, Linux

Intel® 64, Windows*

Intel® 64, Windows

IA-32, Windows

IA-32, Windows

IA-32, Windows


In addition to a supported processor, running an application that offloads computing to the processor graphics requires the Intel® HD Graphics Driver to be installed to provide the necessary runtime support.

The compiler supports separate compilation and linking of target code that runs on Intel® Graphics Technology. The open source binutils package provides the linker support for linking the target kernel. See the Release Notes for more information.

The compiler generates sections of code to run natively on the CPU, that is, the host, and to offload to the processor graphics, that is, the target. The offload runtime refers to the runtime libraries used to organize offload operations to the target.

The compiler and the offload runtime enable the following:

  • the offload process and data exchange between the host and the target

  • dynamic detection of target availability, and back-up execution on the host if the target is not available

Additionally, the compiler and the offload runtime facilitate the following:

  • debugging, on the host, of the heterogeneous source code, which is intended to be offloaded

  • migrating the same source code for efficient execution on Intel processors or coprocessors based on the Intel® Many Integrated Core Architecture.

Programming for Intel® Graphics Technology

When you compile a source file that contains offload extensions for Intel® Graphics Technology, the resulting object file contains the target object embedded within it. This object file is called a fat object. The name of the target object section is .gfxobj. When you link fat objects, the target executable is:

  • a section embedded in the host executable, named .gfx bin (Windows*)

  • part of the read-only data section, and is the object named __gfx_offload_target_image (Linux*)

You can extract the target object or executable from a fat object or fat executable with the offload_extract tool.

The compiler provides the following language extensions to facilitate programming for Intel® Graphics Technology:



offload pragma

offload_attribute pragma

Pragmas to control the data transfer between the CPU and the processor graphics.

__GFX__ macro


Predefined macros you can use when programming for Intel® Graphics Technology.

target(gfx) attribute

target(gfx_kernel) attribute

Attributes to place variables and functions on the target.


Intrinsics specifically supporting heterogeneous programming for Intel® Graphics Technology, as well as support for many existing CPU intrinsics.

API for asynchronous offloading

Functions to facilitate the organization of queued offloading of user-defined kernel functions and data sharing between the CPU and processor graphics.

Additionally, to offload a parallel loop to Intel® Graphics Technology, use Intel® Cilk™ Plus _Cilk_for loops or array notation.

Building for Intel® Graphics Technology

The compiler provides the following compiler options and environment variables that you can use when building a binary for Intel® Graphics Technology:

Compiler Option



Specifies the mode for offloading. The negative form of this option ignores language constructs for offloading.


Flags every global routine and global data object in the source file with the offload attribute target(gfx).


Specifies options to be used for the specified target and tool.

The following environment variables are only a few of the available environment variables for Intel® Graphics Technology:

Environment Variable



Controls whether heterogeneous code is executed on the host when the target is not available.


Controls the maximum number of target threads to parallelize loop nests.


Controls execution time of offload tasks.


Controls printing of timing information at the end of execution.

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