One of the easiest ways to benefit from SIMD is to allow the compiler to generate code using certain vector instruction extensions.

The environment variable RUSTFLAGS can be used to pass options for code generation to the Rust compiler. These flags will affect all compiled crates.

There are two flags which can be used to enable specific vector extensions:


  • Syntax: -C target-feature=<features>

  • Provides the compiler with a comma-separated set of instruction extensions to enable.

    Example: Use -C target-features=+sse3,+avx to enable generating instructions for Streaming SIMD Extensions 3 and Advanced Vector Extensions.

  • To list target triples for all targets supported by Rust, use:

    rustc --print target-list
  • To list all support target features for a certain target triple, use:

    rustc --target=${TRIPLE} --print target-features
  • Note that all CPU features are independent, and will have to be enabled individually.

    Example: Setting -C target-features=+avx2 will not enable fma, even though all CPUs which support AVX2 also support FMA. To enable both, one has to use -C target-features=+avx2,+fma

  • Some features also depend on other features, which need to be enabled for the target instructions to be generated.

    Example: Unless v7 is specified as the target CPU (see below), to enable NEON on ARM it is necessary to use -C target-feature=+v7,+neon.


  • Syntax: -C target-cpu=<cpu>

  • Sets the identifier of a CPU family / model for which to build and optimize the code.

    Example: RUSTFLAGS='-C target-cpu=cortex-a75'

  • To list all supported target CPUs for a certain target triple, use:

    rustc --target=${TRIPLE} --print target-cpus


    rustc --target=i686-pc-windows-msvc --print target-cpus
  • The compiler will translate this into a list of target features. Therefore, individual feature checks (#[cfg(target_feature = "...")]) will still work properly.

  • It will cause the code generator to optimize the generated code for that specific CPU model.

  • Using native as the CPU model will cause Rust to generate and optimize code for the CPU running the compiler. It is useful when building programs which you plan to only use locally. This should never be used when the generated programs are meant to be run on other computers, such as when packaging for distribution or cross-compiling.