Skip to content

Intel MKL


Intel Math Kernel Library (Intel MKL) is a library of math kernel subroutines, extensively threaded and optimized for maximum performance. Intel MKL provides these basic math kernels:

  • BLAS (level 1, 2, and 3) and LAPACK linear algebra routines, offering vector, vector-matrix, and matrix-matrix operations.
  • The PARDISO direct sparse solver, an iterative sparse solver, and supporting sparse BLAS (level 1, 2, and 3) routines for solving sparse systems of equations.
  • ScaLAPACK distributed processing linear algebra routines for Linux and Windows operating systems, as well as the Basic Linear Algebra Communications Subprograms (BLACS) and the Parallel Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms (PBLAS).
  • Fast Fourier transform (FFT) functions in one, two, or three dimensions with support for mixed radices (not limited to sizes that are powers of 2), as well as distributed versions of these functions.
  • Vector Math Library (VML) routines for optimized mathematical operations on vectors.
  • Vector Statistical Library (VSL) routines, which offer high-performance vectorized random number generators (RNG) for several probability distributions, convolution and correlation routines, and summary statistics functions.
  • Data Fitting Library, which provides capabilities for spline-based approximation of functions, derivatives and integrals of functions, and search.
  • Extended Eigensolver, a shared memory version of an eigensolver based on the Feast Eigenvalue Solver.

For details, see the Intel MKL Reference Manual.

Installed Versions

For the current list of installed versions, use:

$ ml av imkl

The module sets up environment variables, required for linking and running MKL-enabled applications. The most important variables are the $MKLROOT, $CPATH, $LD_LIBRARY_PATH, and $MKL_EXAMPLES.

The Intel MKL library may be linked using any compiler. With the Intel compiler, use the -mkl option to link default threaded MKL.


The Intel MKL library provides a number of interfaces. The fundamental ones are LP64 and ILP64. The Intel MKL ILP64 libraries use the 64-bit integer type (necessary for indexing large arrays, with more than 231^-1 elements), whereas the LP64 libraries index arrays with the 32-bit integer type.

Interface Integer type
LP64 32-bit, int, integer(kind=4), MPI_INT
ILP64 64-bit, long int, integer(kind=8), MPI_INT64


Linking the Intel MKL libraries may be complex. Intel mkl link line advisor helps. See also examples below.

You will need the mkl module loaded to run the MKL-enabled executable. This may be avoided, by compiling library search paths into the executable. Include -rpath on the compile line:

$ icc .... -Wl,-rpath=$LIBRARY_PATH ...


Advantage in using the Intel MKL library is that it brings threaded parallelization to applications that are otherwise not parallel.

For this to work, the application must link the threaded MKL library (default). Number and behavior of MKL threads may be controlled via the OpenMP environment variables, such as OMP_NUM_THREADS and KMP_AFFINITY. MKL_NUM_THREADS takes precedence over OMP_NUM_THREADS.

$ export OMP_NUM_THREADS=24
$ export KMP_AFFINITY=granularity=fine,compact,1,0

The application will run with 24 threads with affinity optimized for fine grain parallelization.


A number of examples demonstrating use of the Intel MKL library and its linking is available on clusters, in the $MKL_EXAMPLES directory. In the examples below, we demonstrate linking Intel MKL to Intel- and GNU-compiled program for multi-threaded matrix multiplication.

Working With Examples

$ ml intel
$ ml imkl
$ cp -a $MKL_EXAMPLES/cblas /tmp/
$ cd /tmp/cblas
$ make sointel64 function=cblas_dgemm

In this example, we compile, link, and run the cblas_dgemm example, demonstrating use of the MKL example suite installed on clusters.

Example: MKL and Intel Compiler

$ ml intel
$ ml imkl
$ cp -a $MKL_EXAMPLES/cblas /tmp/
$ cd /tmp/cblas
$ icc -w source/cblas_dgemmx.c source/common_func.c -mkl -o cblas_dgemmx.x
$ ./cblas_dgemmx.x data/cblas_dgemmx.d

In this example, we compile, link, and run the cblas_dgemm example, demonstrating use of MKL with the icc -mkl option. Using the -mkl option is equivalent to:

$ icc -w source/cblas_dgemmx.c source/common_func.c -o cblas_dgemmx.x -I$MKL_INC_DIR -L$MKL_LIB_DIR -lmkl_intel_lp64 -lmkl_intel_thread -lmkl_core -liomp5

In this example, we compile and link the cblas_dgemm example, using LP64 interface to threaded MKL and Intel OMP threads implementation.

Example: Intel MKL and GNU Compiler

$ ml GCC
$ ml imkl
$ cp -a $MKL_EXAMPLES/cblas /tmp/
$ cd /tmp/cblas
$ gcc -w source/cblas_dgemmx.c source/common_func.c -o cblas_dgemmx.x -lmkl_intel_lp64 -lmkl_gnu_thread -lmkl_core -lgomp -lm
$ ./cblas_dgemmx.x data/cblas_dgemmx.d

In this example, we compile, link, and run the cblas_dgemm example, using the LP64 interface to threaded MKL and GNU OMP threads implementation.

MKL and MIC Accelerators

The Intel MKL can automatically offload the computations to the MIC accelerator. For details, see the Intel Xeon Phi section.

LAPACKE C Interface

MKL includes LAPACKE C Interface to LAPACK. However, note that although Intel is the author of LAPACKE, the LAPACKE header files are not present in MKL. For this reason, we have prepared the LAPACKE module, which includes Intel's LAPACKE headers from official LAPACK, which you can use to compile code using the LAPACKE interface against MKL.

Further Reading

Read more on Intel website, in particular the MKL user guide.