In order to build pocl, you need the following support libraries and tools:

  • Latest released version of LLVM & Clang
  • development files for LLVM & Clang + their transitive dependencies (e.g. libclang-dev, libllvm-dev, zlib1g-dev, libtinfo-dev...)
  • GNU make or ninja
  • libtool dlopen wrapper files (e.g. libltdl3-dev in Debian)
  • pthread (should be installed by default)
  • hwloc v1.0 or newer (e.g. libhwloc-dev)
  • pkg-config
  • cmake

There are Dockerfiles available for a few most common linux distributions in tools/docker, looking into them might be helpful.

Clang / LLVM Notes

IMPORTANT NOTE! Some targets (TCE and possibly HSA) require that you compile & build LLVM with RTTI on. It can be enabled on cmake command line, as follows:


Supported LLVM versions

Note that pocl aims to support the latest LLVM version at the time of pocl release, plus the previous LLVM version. All older LLVM versions are supported with “best effort” basis; there might not be build bots continuously testing the code base nor anyone fixing their possible breakage.

Configure & Build

CMake version 2.8.12 or higher is required.

The build+install is the usual CMake way:

cd <directory-with-pocl-sources>
mkdir build
cd build
cmake [-D<option>=<value> ...] ..
make && make install

To see the default detected values, run cmake .. without any options, it will produce a summary.

Since pocl is a compiler, it both compiles (producing code) and is compiled (it consists of code). This distinction typically called “host” and “target”: The host is where pocl is running, the target is where the OpenCL code will be running. These two systems can be wildly different.

Host compiler used to compile pocl can be GCC or Clang; the target compiler is always Clang+LLVM since pocl uses Clang/LLVM internally. For host compiler, you should use the one which your LLVM was compiled with (because the LLVM-related parts of pocl take LLVM’s CXXFLAGS from llvm-config and pass them to the host compiler).

CMake host flags

Compile C:
Compile C++:

Building kernels and the kernel library, i.e. target flags

All of these empty by default. There are hardcoded defaults which may be overriden by setting these variables (rarely needed).

Extra parameters to llc
Extra parameters to clang

Extra parameters to linker (links kernel to shared library which is then dlopened):

is applied to all kernel library compilation commands, IOW it’s for language-independent options
cmake variables for per-language options for kernel library compilation

CMake: other options & features

Note that there are a few more packaging-related options described in README.packaging.

For multiple-item options like KERNELLIB_HOST_CPU_VARIANTS, use ”;” as separator (you’ll have to escape it for bash).

  • -DWITH_LLVM_CONFIG=<path-to-llvm-config> IMPORTANT Path to a llvm-config binary. This determines the LLVM installation used by pocl. If not specified, pocl will try to find and link against llvm-config in PATH env var (usually means your system LLVM).

  • -DSTATIC_LLVM enable this to link LLVM statically into pocl. Note that you need LLVM built with static libs. This option might result in much longer build/link times and much larger pocl library, but the resulting libpocl will not require an LLVM installation to run.

  • -DENABLE_ICD By default pocl’s buildsystem will try to find an ICD and build pocl as a dynamic library named “libpocl”. This option is useful if you want to avoid ICD and build pocl directly as libOpenCL library. See also Linking your program with pocl through an icd loader

  • -DPOCL_INSTALL_<something>_DIR The equivalent of --bindir, --sbindir etc fine-tuning of paths for autotools. See the beginning of toplevel CMakeLists.txt for all the variables.

    Note that if CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX equals /usr then pocl.icd is installed to /etc/OpenCL/vendors, otherwise it’s installed to ${CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX}/etc/OpenCL/vendors.

  • -DLLC_HOST_CPU=<something> Defaults to auto-detection via llc. Run llc -mcpu=help for valid values. The CPU type is required to compile the “target” (kernel library) part of CPU backend.

    This variable overrides LLVM’s autodetected host CPU at configure time. Useful when llc fails to detect the CPU (often happens on non-x86 platforms, or x86 with CPU newer than LLVM).

    Note that when this is set (set by default) and the KERNELLIB_HOST_CPU_VARIANTS variable is not distro, pocl will first try to find compiled kernel library for runtime-detected CPU then fallback to LLC_HOST_CPU. This works well if pocl is run where it was built, or the actual CPU is in the KERNELLIB_HOST_CPU_VARIANTS list, or the actual CPU is >= LLC_HOST_CPU feature-wise; otherwise it will likely fail with illegal instruction at runtime.

  • -DKERNELLIB_HOST_CPU_VARIANTS You can control which CPUs the “target” part of CPU backend will be built for. Unlike LLC_HOST_CPU, this variable is useful if you plan to build for multiple CPUs. Defaults to “native” which is automagically replaced by LLC_HOST_CPU. Available CPUs are listed by llc -mcpu=help. See above for runtime CPU detection rules.

    Note that there’s another valid value on x86(64) platforms. If set to distro, the KERNELLIB_HOST_CPU_VARIANTS variable will be set up with a few preselected sse/avx variants covering 99.99% of x86 processors, and the runtime CPU detection is slightly altered: pocl will find the suitable compiled library based on detected CPU features, so it cannot fail (at worst it’ll degrade to SSE2 library).

  • -DENABLE_TESTSUITES Which external (source outside pocl) testsuites to enable. For the list of testsuites, see examples/CMakeLists.txt or the examples directory. Set to all and pocl will try to autodetect & enable everything it can.

    Note that you may build testsuites outside pocl’s build tree, and test multiple pocl builds with a single testsuite directory. To use this, run cmake with -DTESTSUITE_BASEDIR=<tests-builddir> and -DTESTSUITE_SOURCE_BASEDIR=<tests-sourcedir>. The directory structure mirrors that of pocl/examples. So to build e.g. AMD SDK 2.9 with -DTESTSUITE_BASEDIR=/home/pocltest-build -DTESTSUITE_SOURCE_BASEDIR=/home/pocltest-src, place the AMD-APP-SDK-v2.9-RC-lnx64.tgz file into /home/pocltest-src/AMDSDK2.9 directory.

  • -DENABLE_CONFORMANCE=ON/OFF Builds Pocl as a fully conformant OpenCL implementation. Defaults to ON. See Pocl OpenCL conformance for details.

  • -DENABLE_{A,L,T,UB}SAN - compiles pocl’s host code (and tests + examples) with various sanitizers. Using more than one sanitizer at a time is untested. Using together with -DENABLE_ICD=OFF is highly recommended to avoid issues with loading order of sanitizer libraries.

  • -DENABLE_{CUDA,TCE,HSA}=ON/OFF - enable various (non-CPU) backends. Usually requires some extra setup; see their documentation.

  • -DPOCL_DEBUG_MESSAGES=ON - when disabled, pocl is compiled without debug messages (POCL_DEBUG env var) support.

  • -DEXAMPLES_USE_GIT_MASTER=ON - when enabled, examples (external programs in examples/ directory) are built from their git branches (if available), as opposed to default: building from release tars.

LLVM-less build

Known build-time issues

There are unsolved issues and bugs in pocl. See the bug listing for a complete listing at

Known issues not related to pocl are listed below.