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Chapter 5


In order to use Kokkos an initialization call is required. That call is responsible for initializing internal objects and acquiring hardware resources such as threads. Typically, this call should be placed right at the start of a program. If you use both MPI and Kokkos, your program should initialize Kokkos right after calling MPI_Init. That way, if MPI sets up process binding masks, Kokkos will get that information and use it for best performance. Your program must also finalize Kokkos when done using it in order to free hardware resources.

5.0 Include Headers

All primary capabilities of Kokkos are provided by the Kokkos_Core.hpp header file. Some capabilities - specifically data structures in the containers subpackage and algorithmic capabilities in the algorithms subpackage are included via separate header files. For specific capabilities check their API reference at API-Reference

5.1 Initialization by command-line arguments

The simplest way to initialize Kokkos is by calling the following function:

Kokkos::initialize(int& argc, char* argv[]); 

Just like MPI_Init, this function interprets command-line arguments to determine the requested settings. Also like MPI_Init, it reserves the right to remove command-line arguments from the input list. This is why it takes argc by reference, rather than by value; it may change the value on output.

During initialization one or more execution spaces will be initialized and assigned to one of the following aliases.


DefaultExecutionSpace is the execution space used with policies and views where one is not explicitly specified. Primarily, Kokkos will initialize one of the heterogeneous backends (CUDA, OpenMPTarget, HIP, SYCL) as the DefaultExecutionSpace if enabled in the build configuration. In addition, Kokkos requires a DefaultHostExecutionSpace. The DefaultHostExecutionSpace is default execution space used when host operations are required. If one of the parallel host execution spaces are enabled in the build environment then Kokkos::Serial is only initialized if it is explicitly enabled in the build configuration. If a parallel host execution space is not enabled in the build configuration, then Kokkos::Serial is initialized as the DefaultHostExecutionSpace. Kokkos chooses the two spaces using the following list:

  1. Kokkos::Cuda
  2. Kokkos::Experimental::OpenMPTarget
  3. Kokkos::Experimental::HIP
  4. Kokkos::Experimental::SYCL
  5. Kokkos::OpenMP
  6. Kokkos::Threads
  7. Kokkos::Experimental::HPX
  8. Kokkos::Serial

The highest execution space in the list which is enabled is Kokkos' default execution space, and the highest enabled host execution space is Kokkos' default host execution space. For example, if Kokkos::Cuda, Kokkos::OpenMP, and Kokkos::Serial are enabled, then Kokkos::Cuda is the default execution space and Kokkos::OpenMP is the default host execution space.1 In cases where the highest enabled backend is a host parallel execution space the DefaultExecutionSpace and the DefaultHostExecutionSpace will be the same.

Command-line arguments come in "prefixed" and "non-prefixed" versions. Prefixed versions start with the string --kokkos-. Kokkos::initialize will remove prefixed options from the input list, but will preserve non-prefixed options. Argument options are given with an equals (=) sign. If the same argument occurs more than once, the last one is used. Furthermore, prefixed versions of the command line arguments take precedence over the non-prefixed ones. For example, the arguments

--kokkos-threads=4 --threads=2

set the number of threads to 4, while

--kokkos-threads=4 --threads=2 --kokkos-threads=3

set the number of threads to 3. Table 5.1 gives a full list of command-line options.

Table 5.1: Command-line options for Kokkos::initialize <\h4>

Argument Description
print this message
specify total number of threads or number of threads per NUMA region if used in conjunction with --numa option.
specify number of NUMA regions used by process.
--device-id=INT specify device id to be used by Kokkos.
--num-devices=INT[,INT] used when running MPI jobs. Specify the number of devices per node to be used. Process to device mapping happens by obtaining the local MPI rank and assigning devices round-robin. The optional second argument allows for an existing device to be ignored. This is most useful on workstations with multiple GPUs, one of which is used to drive screen output.

1 This is the preferred set of defaults when CUDA and OpenMP are enabled. If you use a thread-parallel host execution space, we prefer Kokkos' OpenMP back-end, as this ensures compatibility of Kokkos' threads with the application's direct use of OpenMP threads. Kokkos cannot promise that its Threads back-end will not conflict with the application's direct use of operating system threads.

5.2 Initialization by struct

Instead of giving Kokkos::initialize() command-line arguments, one may directly pass in initialization parameters using the following struct:

struct Kokkos::InitArguments {
  int num_threads;
  int num_numa;
  int device_id;
  int ndevices;
  int skip_device;
  bool disable_warnings;

The num_threads field corresponds to the --kokkos-threads command-line argument, num_numa to --kokkos-numa, device_id to --device-id, ndevices to the first value in --num-devices and skip_devices to the second value in --num-devices. (See Table 5.1 for details.) Not all parameters are observed by all execution spaces, and the struct might expand in the future if needed.

If you set num_threads or num_numa to zero or less, Kokkos will try to determine default values if possible or otherwise set them to 1. In particular, Kokkos can use the hwloc library to determine default settings using the assumption that the process binding mask is unique, i.e., that this process does not share any cores with another process. Note that the default value of each parameter is -1.

Here is an example of how to use the struct.

Kokkos::InitArguments args;
// 8 (CPU) threads per NUMA region
args.num_threads = 8;
// 2 (CPU) NUMA regions per process
args.num_numa = 2;
// If Kokkos was built with CUDA enabled, use the GPU with device ID 1.
args.device_id = 1;

5.3 Finalization

At the end of each program, Kokkos needs to be shut down in order to free resources; do this by calling Kokkos::finalize(). You may wish to set this to be called automatically at program exit, either by setting an atexit hook or by attaching the function to MPI_COMM_SELF so that it is called automatically at MPI_Finalize.

5.4 Example Code

A minimal Kokkos code thus would look like this:


int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {


Chapter 6: View