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Automatically Parallelize for Loops in Generated Code

Iterations of parallel for loops can run simultaneously on multiple cores on the target hardware. Parallelization of a section of code might significantly improve the execution speed of the generated code. See How parfor-Loops Improve Execution Speed.

While generating C/C++ code from your MATLAB® code, you can generate parallel for loops automatically. Automatic parallelization is a compiler transformation which converts sequential code to multi-threaded code without manual intervention.

Automatic parallelization of for loop supports these build types for C/C++ targets: MEX, static library, dynamically linked library, and executable.

Parallelize for Loops by Using MATLAB Coder App

To enable automatic parallelization of for loops, in the MATLAB Coder™ app, in the Generate Code step, select More Settings > Speed > Enable automatic parallelization.

GUI for Enable Automatic Parallelization

Parallelize for Loops at Command Line

You can enable parallelization of the for loops by using the command line interface. Consider the function autoparExample:

function x = autoparExample(x)
for i = 10:numel(x)
    x(i) = sqrt(x(i));

To automatically generate parallel for loops, run these commands:

cfg = coder.config('lib');
cfg.EnableAutoParallelization = 1;
x = rand(1,2000);
codegen -config cfg autoparExample -args {x} -report
Code generation successful: View report

Inspect Generated Code and Code Insights

Open and inspect the code generation report.

Generated Code

Observe the Open Multiprocessing (OpenMP) pragmas generated above the for loops.

void autoparExample(double x[2000])
  int i;
  if (!isInitialized_autoparExample) {
#pragma omp parallel for num_threads(omp_get_max_threads()) private(i)

  for (i = 0; i < 1991; i++) {
    x[i + 9] = sqrt(x[i + 9]);

The gutter highlighted in green next to the loops shows the part of the code that is parallelized.

Highlighted parallel for loops

Code Insights

In the Code Insights tab, under Automatic parallelization issues, you can see detailed information about the for loops that were not parallelized in the generated code.

For example, to view a particular code insight, generate code again for the autoparExample function that you defined in the previous section. Specify a smaller size for the input arguments.

cfg = coder.config('lib');
cfg.EnableAutoParallelization = 1;
x = rand(1,1000);
codegen -config cfg autoparExample -args {x} -report

The generated code does not contain parallel for loops because the size of the input arguments are smaller than the threshold value for automatic parallelization. Open the report and click Code Insights > Automatic parallelization issues to view detailed information about the non-parallelized part of the code.

Code insights about non-parallelized part of the code

Disable Automatic Parallelization of a for Loop

You might want to disable automatic parallelization of a particular loop if that loop performs better in serial execution. To prevent parallelization of a specific for loop, place the coder.loop.parallelize('never') pragma immediately before the loop in your MATLAB code. This pragma overrides the EnableAutoParallelization setting. Also, this pragma supports only those for loops that are explicitly defined in your MATLAB code. For more information on explicit and implicit loops, see the next section.

For example, the code generator does not parallelize this loop:

% Pragma to disable automatic parallelization of for-loops
for i = 1:n
    y(i) = y(i)*sin(i);

See coder.loop.parallelize.

Parallelize Implicit for Loops

The example function autoparExample used in the previous sections contains an explicit for loop. But your MATLAB code can also contain implicit for loops that do not appear explicitly in the code that you author. For example, the MATLAB function mtimes multiplies two matrices and therefore must perform loop iterations implicitly over the matrix elements.

Automatic parallelization supports loops that are implicit in your MATLAB code. For example, consider this function autoparExample_implicit.

function y = autoparExample_implicit(y)
y = y * 17; % Generates implicit for loop

Generate code by running these commands:

cfg = coder.config('lib');
cfg.EnableAutoParallelization = 1;
y = rand(1,2000);
codegen -config cfg autoparExample_implicit -args {y} -report

Open the report and inspect the generated code. The generated code contains a parallel for loop for the multiplication operation.

void autoparExample_implicit(double y[2000])
  int i;
  if (!isInitialized_autoparExample_implicit) {
#pragma omp parallel for num_threads(omp_get_max_threads()) private(i)

  for (i = 0; i < 2000; i++) {
    y[i] *= 17.0;

Usage Notes and Limitations

See Also

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