Vc: portable, zero-overhead C++ types for explicitly data-parallel programming
Recent generations of CPUs, and GPUs in particular, require data-parallel codes for full efficiency. Data parallelism requires that the same sequence of operations is applied to different input data. CPUs and GPUs can thus reduce the necessary hardware for instruction decoding and scheduling in favor of more arithmetic and logic units, which execute the same instructions synchronously. On CPU architectures this is implemented via SIMD registers and instructions. A single SIMD register can store N values and a single SIMD instruction can execute N operations on those values. On GPU architectures N threads run in perfect sync, fed by a single instruction decoder/scheduler. Each thread has local memory and a given index to calculate the offsets in memory for loads and stores.
Current C++ compilers can do automatic transformation of scalar codes to SIMD instructions (auto-vectorization). However, the compiler must reconstruct an intrinsic property of the algorithm that was lost when the developer wrote a purely scalar implementation in C++. Consequently, C++ compilers cannot vectorize any given code to its most efficient data-parallel variant. Especially larger data-parallel loops, spanning over multiple functions or even translation units, will often not be transformed into efficient SIMD code.
The Vc library provides the missing link. Its types enable explicitly stating data-parallel operations on multiple values. The parallelism is therefore added via the type system. Competing approaches state the parallelism via new control structures and consequently new semantics inside the body of these control structures.
Vc is a free software library to ease explicit vectorization of C++ code. It has an intuitive API and provides portability between different compilers and compiler versions as well as portability between different vector instruction sets. Thus an application written with Vc can be compiled for:
- AVX and AVX2
- SSE2 up to SSE4.2 or SSE4a
- NEON (in development)
- NVIDIA GPUs / CUDA (in development)
cmake >= 3.0
- GCC >= 4.8.1
- clang >= 3.4
- ICC >= 15.0.3
- Visual Studio (not ready for Vc 1.0 yet)
Building and Installing Vc
- Create a build directory:
$ mkdir build $ cd build
- Call cmake with the relevant options:
$ cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/opt/Vc -DBUILD_TESTING=OFF <srcdir>
- Build and install:
$ make -j16 $ make install
The documentation is generated via doxygen. You can build
the documentation by running
doxygen in the
Alternatively, you can find nightly builds of the documentation at:
- M. Kretz, “Extending C++ for Explicit Data-Parallel Programming via SIMD Vector Types”, Goethe University Frankfurt, Dissertation, 2015.
- M. Kretz and V. Lindenstruth, “Vc: A C++ library for explicit vectorization”, Software: Practice and Experience, 2011.
- M. Kretz, “Efficient Use of Multi- and Many-Core Systems with Vectorization and Multithreading”, University of Heidelberg, 2009.
There exist two mailinglists:
Feel free to use the GitHub issue tracker for questions, too.
Vc is released under the terms of the 3-clause BSD license.