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The ultimate memory bandwidth benchmark
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The Bandwidth Benchmark

This is a collection of simple streaming kernels.

Apart from the micro-benchmark functionality this is also a blueprint for other micro-benchmark applications.

It contains C modules for:

  • Aligned data allocation
  • Query and control affinity settings
  • Accurate timing

Moreover the benchmark showcases a simple generic Makefile that can be used in other projects.


The benchmark is heavily inspired by John McCalpin's benchmark.

It contains the following streaming kernels with corresponding data access pattern (Notation: S - store, L - load, WA - write allocate). All variables are vectors, s is a scalar:

  • init (S1, WA): Initilize an array: a = s. Store only.
  • sum (L1): Vector reduction: s += a. Load only.
  • copy (L1, S1, WA): Classic memcopy: a = b.
  • update (L1, S1): Update vector: a = a * scalar. Also load + store but without write allocate.
  • triad (L2, S1, WA): Stream triad: a = b + c * scalar.
  • daxpy (L2, S1): Daxpy: a = a + b * scalar.
  • striad (L3, S1, WA): Schoenauer triad: a = b + c * d.
  • sdaxpy (L3, S1): Schoenauer triad without write allocate: a = a + b * c.

As added benefit the code is a blueprint for a minimal benchmarking application with a generic makefile and modules for aligned array allocation, accurate timing and affinity settings. Those components can be used standalone in your own project.


  1. Configure the toolchain and additional options in
# Supported: GCC, CLANG, ICC

OPTIONS  =  -DSIZE=40000000ull

The verbosity options enable detailed output about affinity settings, allocation sizes and timer resolution.

  1. Build with:

You can build multiple toolchains in the same directory, but notice that the Makefile is only acting on the one currently set. Intermediate build results are located in the <TOOLCHAIN> directory.

To output the executed commands use:

make Q=
  1. Clean up with:
make clean

to clean intermediate build results.

make distclean

to clean intermediate build results and binary.

  1. (Optional) Generate assembler:
make asm

The assembler files will also be located in the <TOOLCHAIN> directory.


To run the benchmark call:


The benchmark will output the results similar to the stream benchmark. Results are validated. For threaded execution it is recommended to control thread affinity.

We recommend to use likwid-pin for benchmarking:

likwid-pin -c 0-3 ./bwbench-GCC

Example output for threaded execution:

[pthread wrapper]
[pthread wrapper] MAIN -> 0
[pthread wrapper] PIN_MASK: 0->1  1->2  2->3
[pthread wrapper] SKIP MASK: 0x0
        threadid 140271463495424 -> core 1 - OK
        threadid 140271455102720 -> core 2 - OK
        threadid 140271446710016 -> core 3 - OK
OpenMP enabled, running with 4 threads
Function      Rate(MB/s)  Rate(MFlop/s)  Avg time     Min time     Max time
Init:          22111.53    -             0.0148       0.0145       0.0165
Sum:           46808.59    46808.59      0.0077       0.0068       0.0140
Copy:          30983.06    -             0.0207       0.0207       0.0208
Update:        43778.69    21889.34      0.0147       0.0146       0.0148
Triad:         34476.64    22984.43      0.0282       0.0278       0.0305
Daxpy:         45908.82    30605.88      0.0214       0.0209       0.0242
STriad:        37502.37    18751.18      0.0349       0.0341       0.0388
SDaxpy:        46822.63    23411.32      0.0281       0.0273       0.0325
Solution Validates

Benchmarking skript

A perl wrapper script ( is also provided to scan ranges of thread counts and determine the absolute highest sustained main memory bandwidth. In order to use it likwid-pin has to be in your path. The script has three required and one optional command line arguments:

$./ <executable> <thread count range>  <repetitions> [<SMT setting>]

Example usage:

$./ ./bwbench-GCC 2-8 6

The script will always use physical cores only, where two SMT threads is the default. For different SMT thread counts use the 4th command line argument. Example for a processor without SMT:

$./ ./bwbench-GCC 14-24  10  1
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