MMX/SSE subtarget feature in IR

Hi all,

I have a sample test case :

$ cat 1.c

int foo(int x, int y){
int z = x + y;
return z/2;

I tried to get its IR form with clang providing subtarget feature as mmx for target x86_64

$ clang -O3 -mmmx 1.c -S -emit-llvm

in the IR generated i can see the subtarget-features as function attribute :


In the SelectionDAG phase in file “X86ISelLowering.cpp”, i checked in one of the function what is the subtarget feature by calling few routines of Subtarget.

Subtarget->hasMMX() ------ true
Subtarget->hasSSE1() ------ true
Subtarget->hasSSE2() ------ true

These functions just compare the X86SSELevel with subtarget enum values like MMX, SSE1, SSE2 etc.

hasMMX() { return X86SSELevel >= MMX}; // similar for others

Now, enum values start from MMX and goes on increasing with SSE1, SSE2, etc.

For the above test case, the X86SSELevel is set to SSE2, which is confusing, since i have explicitly specified the target feature as ‘mmx’. Why the X86SSELevel is getting set to SSE2 despite providing target-feature as mmx? Is it something to do with default feature of x86_64?

I wanted to distinguish my code generation based on subtarget feature for MMX and SSE, which i am unable to do so currently because of above scenario.

I am sure i am missing something fundamental, but unable to exactly find out what.

Can someone please help me out on above question?


Suyog Sarda

For x86_64 ABI, a minimum feature set of SSE2 is required.


Thanks Kevin for the reply. I got the point now :slight_smile:

Hi Kevin,

I had another query for 32 bit x86. (Apology for being naive)

I guess the default CPU on 32-bit x86 is ‘pentium4’, which has SSE as seen in getX86TargetCPU() in tools/clang/lib/Driver/Tools.cpp:

static const char *getX86TargetCPU(const ArgList &Args,
                                   const llvm::Triple &Triple) {
  // Everything else goes to x86-64 in 64-bit mode.
  if (Is64Bit)
    return "x86-64";

  switch (Triple.getOS()) {
  case llvm::Triple::FreeBSD:
  case llvm::Triple::NetBSD:
  case llvm::Triple::OpenBSD:
    return "i486";
  case llvm::Triple::Haiku:
    return "i586";
  case llvm::Triple::Bitrig:
    return "i686";
    // Fallback to p4.
    return "pentium4";

Is there any 32-bit CPU with MMX feature but without SSE feature?

Can it be done as follows :

$ clang 1.c -mmmx -mno-sse -emit-llvm -S -target i386.

My intention is to generate IR for x86 32 bit CPU with MMX feature but without SSE feature and further investigate if vectorization triggers for 32 bit architecture with MMX feature only.


Suyog Sarda

Your clang invocation below works for me, and generates target triple in the llvm IR of


And then in the specific options for the functions it generates the following:

; Function Attrs: nounwind

define float @foo() #0 {


ret float 1.000000e+00


attributes #0 = { nounwind “less-precise-fpmad”=“false” “no-frame-pointer-elim”=

“true” “no-frame-pointer-elim-non-leaf” “no-infs-fp-math”=“false” "no-nans-fp-ma

th"=“false” “stack-protector-buffer-size”=“8” “target-cpu”=“pentium4” "target-fe

atures"="+mmx,-sse" “unsafe-fp-math”=“false” “use-soft-float”=“false” }

The attributes indicate to allow mmx, disallow sse, so this certainly looks like it might work. I don’t

know whether work has been done to specifically do something special for this combination, since

use of MMX overlaps with X87 floating point state. The processors that support mmx, but not SSE

would be

Pentium w MMX processor

Pentium II family processors


Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the reply.

The target-cpu generated in IR is pentium4 which has SSE. But we are overriding that by specifying features as “+mmx, -sse” which means we are disallowing SSE and only allowing MMX.

I further tried to see if it can vectorize (SLP) with MMX and without SSE. At the start of SLP vectorization, it checks if target has vector registers or not. For above IR, we have MMX on and SSE off. If I am not wrong, target with MMX feature has vector registers, and hence it should vectorize. But it is not vectorizing the IR.

Am I missing something here?

Suyog Sarda

LLVM will only generate MMX instructions from intrinsics. There is no support for creating mmx instructions from the vectorizers.

Hi Craig,

Awesome !! Thanks a lot for clarification.

Now I can differentiate my Codegen for MMX and SSE !!

Thanks a lot once again.

Suyog Sarda