Module core::arch

1.27.0 · source · []
Expand description

SIMD and vendor intrinsics module.

This module is intended to be the gateway to architecture-specific intrinsic functions, typically related to SIMD (but not always!). Each architecture that Rust compiles to may contain a submodule here, which means that this is not a portable module! If you’re writing a portable library take care when using these APIs!

Under this module you’ll find an architecture-named module, such as x86_64. Each #[cfg(target_arch)] that Rust can compile to may have a module entry here, only present on that particular target. For example the i686-pc-windows-msvc target will have an x86 module here, whereas x86_64-pc-windows-msvc has x86_64.


This module exposes vendor-specific intrinsics that typically correspond to a single machine instruction. These intrinsics are not portable: their availability is architecture-dependent, and not all machines of that architecture might provide the intrinsic.

The arch module is intended to be a low-level implementation detail for higher-level APIs. Using it correctly can be quite tricky as you need to ensure at least a few guarantees are upheld:

  • The correct architecture’s module is used. For example the arm module isn’t available on the x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu target. This is typically done by ensuring that #[cfg] is used appropriately when using this module.
  • The CPU the program is currently running on supports the function being called. For example it is unsafe to call an AVX2 function on a CPU that doesn’t actually support AVX2.

As a result of the latter of these guarantees all intrinsics in this module are unsafe and extra care needs to be taken when calling them!

CPU Feature Detection

In order to call these APIs in a safe fashion there’s a number of mechanisms available to ensure that the correct CPU feature is available to call an intrinsic. Let’s consider, for example, the _mm256_add_epi64 intrinsics on the x86 and x86_64 architectures. This function requires the AVX2 feature as documented by Intel so to correctly call this function we need to (a) guarantee we only call it on x86/x86_64 and (b) ensure that the CPU feature is available

Static CPU Feature Detection

The first option available to us is to conditionally compile code via the #[cfg] attribute. CPU features correspond to the target_feature cfg available, and can be used like so:

        any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"),
        target_feature = "avx2"
fn foo() {
    #[cfg(target_arch = "x86")]
    use std::arch::x86::_mm256_add_epi64;
    #[cfg(target_arch = "x86_64")]
    use std::arch::x86_64::_mm256_add_epi64;

    unsafe {

Here we’re using #[cfg(target_feature = "avx2")] to conditionally compile this function into our module. This means that if the avx2 feature is enabled statically then we’ll use the _mm256_add_epi64 function at runtime. The unsafe block here can be justified through the usage of #[cfg] to only compile the code in situations where the safety guarantees are upheld.

Statically enabling a feature is typically done with the -C target-feature or -C target-cpu flags to the compiler. For example if your local CPU supports AVX2 then you can compile the above function with:

$ RUSTFLAGS='-C target-cpu=native' cargo build

Or otherwise you can specifically enable just the AVX2 feature:

$ RUSTFLAGS='-C target-feature=+avx2' cargo build

Note that when you compile a binary with a particular feature enabled it’s important to ensure that you only run the binary on systems which satisfy the required feature set.

Dynamic CPU Feature Detection

Sometimes statically dispatching isn’t quite what you want. Instead you might want to build a portable binary that runs across a variety of CPUs, but at runtime it selects the most optimized implementation available. This allows you to build a “least common denominator” binary which has certain sections more optimized for different CPUs.

Taking our previous example from before, we’re going to compile our binary without AVX2 support, but we’d like to enable it for just one function. We can do that in a manner like:

fn foo() {
    #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
        if is_x86_feature_detected!("avx2") {
            return unsafe { foo_avx2() };

    // fallback implementation without using AVX2

#[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
#[target_feature(enable = "avx2")]
unsafe fn foo_avx2() {
    #[cfg(target_arch = "x86")]
    use std::arch::x86::_mm256_add_epi64;
    #[cfg(target_arch = "x86_64")]
    use std::arch::x86_64::_mm256_add_epi64;


There’s a couple of components in play here, so let’s go through them in detail!

  • First up we notice the is_x86_feature_detected! macro. Provided by the standard library, this macro will perform necessary runtime detection to determine whether the CPU the program is running on supports the specified feature. In this case the macro will expand to a boolean expression evaluating to whether the local CPU has the AVX2 feature or not.

    Note that this macro, like the arch module, is platform-specific. For example calling is_x86_feature_detected!("avx2") on ARM will be a compile time error. To ensure we don’t hit this error a statement level #[cfg] is used to only compile usage of the macro on x86/x86_64.

  • Next up we see our AVX2-enabled function, foo_avx2. This function is decorated with the #[target_feature] attribute which enables a CPU feature for just this one function. Using a compiler flag like -C target-feature=+avx2 will enable AVX2 for the entire program, but using an attribute will only enable it for the one function. Usage of the #[target_feature] attribute currently requires the function to also be unsafe, as we see here. This is because the function can only be correctly called on systems which have the AVX2 (like the intrinsics themselves).

And with all that we should have a working program! This program will run across all machines and it’ll use the optimized AVX2 implementation on machines where support is detected.


It’s important to note that using the arch module is not the easiest thing in the world, so if you’re curious to try it out you may want to brace yourself for some wordiness!

The primary purpose of this module is to enable stable crates on to build up much more ergonomic abstractions which end up using SIMD under the hood. Over time these abstractions may also move into the standard library itself, but for now this module is tasked with providing the bare minimum necessary to use vendor intrinsics on stable Rust.

Other architectures

This documentation is only for one particular architecture, you can find others at:


First let’s take a look at not actually using any intrinsics but instead using LLVM’s auto-vectorization to produce optimized vectorized code for AVX2 and also for the default platform.

fn main() {
    let mut dst = [0];
    add_quickly(&[1], &[2], &mut dst);
    assert_eq!(dst[0], 3);

fn add_quickly(a: &[u8], b: &[u8], c: &mut [u8]) {
    #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
        // Note that this `unsafe` block is safe because we're testing
        // that the `avx2` feature is indeed available on our CPU.
        if is_x86_feature_detected!("avx2") {
            return unsafe { add_quickly_avx2(a, b, c) };

    add_quickly_fallback(a, b, c)

#[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
#[target_feature(enable = "avx2")]
unsafe fn add_quickly_avx2(a: &[u8], b: &[u8], c: &mut [u8]) {
    add_quickly_fallback(a, b, c) // the function below is inlined here

fn add_quickly_fallback(a: &[u8], b: &[u8], c: &mut [u8]) {
    for ((a, b), c) in a.iter().zip(b).zip(c) {
        *c = *a + *b;

Next up let’s take a look at an example of manually using intrinsics. Here we’ll be using SSE4.1 features to implement hex encoding.

fn main() {
    let mut dst = [0; 32];
    hex_encode(b"\x01\x02\x03", &mut dst);
    assert_eq!(&dst[..6], b"010203");

    let mut src = [0; 16];
    for i in 0..16 {
        src[i] = (i + 1) as u8;
    hex_encode(&src, &mut dst);
    assert_eq!(&dst, b"0102030405060708090a0b0c0d0e0f10");

pub fn hex_encode(src: &[u8], dst: &mut [u8]) {
    let len = src.len().checked_mul(2).unwrap();
    assert!(dst.len() >= len);

    #[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
        if is_x86_feature_detected!("sse4.1") {
            return unsafe { hex_encode_sse41(src, dst) };

    hex_encode_fallback(src, dst)

// translated from
// <>
#[target_feature(enable = "sse4.1")]
#[cfg(any(target_arch = "x86", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
unsafe fn hex_encode_sse41(mut src: &[u8], dst: &mut [u8]) {
    #[cfg(target_arch = "x86")]
    use std::arch::x86::*;
    #[cfg(target_arch = "x86_64")]
    use std::arch::x86_64::*;

    let ascii_zero = _mm_set1_epi8(b'0' as i8);
    let nines = _mm_set1_epi8(9);
    let ascii_a = _mm_set1_epi8((b'a' - 9 - 1) as i8);
    let and4bits = _mm_set1_epi8(0xf);

    let mut i = 0_isize;
    while src.len() >= 16 {
        let invec = _mm_loadu_si128(src.as_ptr() as *const _);

        let masked1 = _mm_and_si128(invec, and4bits);
        let masked2 = _mm_and_si128(_mm_srli_epi64(invec, 4), and4bits);

        // return 0xff corresponding to the elements > 9, or 0x00 otherwise
        let cmpmask1 = _mm_cmpgt_epi8(masked1, nines);
        let cmpmask2 = _mm_cmpgt_epi8(masked2, nines);

        // add '0' or the offset depending on the masks
        let masked1 = _mm_add_epi8(
            _mm_blendv_epi8(ascii_zero, ascii_a, cmpmask1),
        let masked2 = _mm_add_epi8(
            _mm_blendv_epi8(ascii_zero, ascii_a, cmpmask2),

        // interleave masked1 and masked2 bytes
        let res1 = _mm_unpacklo_epi8(masked2, masked1);
        let res2 = _mm_unpackhi_epi8(masked2, masked1);

        _mm_storeu_si128(dst.as_mut_ptr().offset(i * 2) as *mut _, res1);
            dst.as_mut_ptr().offset(i * 2 + 16) as *mut _,
        src = &src[16..];
        i += 16;

    let i = i as usize;
    hex_encode_fallback(src, &mut dst[i * 2..]);

fn hex_encode_fallback(src: &[u8], dst: &mut [u8]) {
    fn hex(byte: u8) -> u8 {
        static TABLE: &[u8] = b"0123456789abcdef";
        TABLE[byte as usize]

    for (byte, slots) in src.iter().zip(dst.chunks_mut(2)) {
        slots[0] = hex((*byte >> 4) & 0xf);
        slots[1] = hex(*byte & 0xf);


Platform-specific intrinsics for the arm platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the mips platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the mips64 platform.
nvptxExperimentaltarget_arch="nvptx" or target_arch="nvptx64"
Platform-specific intrinsics for the NVPTX platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the PowerPC platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the PowerPC64 platform.
riscv32ExperimentalRISC-V RV32
Platform-specific intrinsics for the riscv32 platform.
riscv64ExperimentalRISC-V RV64
Platform-specific intrinsics for the riscv64 platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the wasm target family.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the wasm64 platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the aarch64 platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the wasm32 platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the x86 platform.
Platform-specific intrinsics for the x86_64 platform.


Inline assembly.
Module-level inline assembly.