UMBC logo
UMBC High Performance Computing Facility
How to use BLAS on tara


The BLAS (Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms) library is useful for efficient matrix computations. You may want to consider using it instead of writing your own routines. In general there are three "levels" of BLAS functions. Level 1 contains simple operations like the dot-product. Level 2 contains operations like matrix-vector products. Level 3 contains operations like matrix-matrix products. In this tutorial, we will show how to compile and run a program that uses BLAS to multiply matrices. Before you begin, make sure to read the tutorial for compiling C programs.

Where to find documentation

On this page, we'll show how to use BLAS functionality within AMD Core Math Library (ACML). We'll assume that you're using the default "pgi-9.0-mvapich2-1.4rc2" switcher setting - other MPI+compiler combinations may not work with the code below.

For more information about the BLAS routines in ACML, see


In this example we'll multiply two matrices together using the BLAS dgemm function. We will multiply A (m x k) with B (k x n) to produce C (m x n). Our matrices will contain doubles, and be stored in column-major order. Here is the code
#include <stdio.h>
#include <acml.h>

#define MATRIX_IDX(n, i, j) j*n + i
#define MATRIX_ELEMENT(A, m, n, i, j) A[ MATRIX_IDX(m, i, j) ]

void init_matrix(double* A, int m, int n)
   double element = 1.0;
   for (int j = 0; j < n; j++)
      for (int i = 0; i < m; i++)
         MATRIX_ELEMENT(A, m, n, i, j) = element;
         element *= 0.9;

void print_matrix(const double* A, int m, int n)
   for (int i = 0; i < m; i++)
      for (int j = 0; j < n; j++)
          printf("%8.4f", MATRIX_ELEMENT(A, m, n, i, j));

int main(int argc, char** argv)
   int m = 3;
   int n = 4;
   int k = 5;

   double A[m * k];
   double B[k * n];
   double C[m * n];

   init_matrix(A, m, k);
   init_matrix(B, k, n);

   printf("Matrix A (%d x %d) is:\n", m, k);
   print_matrix(A, m, k);

   printf("\nMatrix B (%d x %d) is:\n", k, n);
   print_matrix(B, k, n);

   dgemm('N', 'N', m, n, k, 1.0, A, m, B, k, 0.0, C, m);

   printf("\nMatrix C (%d x %d) = AB is:\n", m, n);
   print_matrix(C, m, n);

   return 0;

Download: ../code-2010/blas-matrix-multiply/pgi_acml/main.c
The important line is
dgemm('N', 'N', m, n, k, 1.0, A, m, B, k, 0.0, C, m);
which is the actual matrix multiplication call. The 'N' arguments indicate that we do not want BLAS to use the transpose of either A or B, but rather A and B themselves. The dgemm function is a little bit more general than just a matrix multiply. As the Netlib FORTRAN documentation indicates, it can handle operations of the form

C := alpha*op( A )*op( B ) + beta*C,

which allows us to easily accumulate results into C if we wish. In this example we have taken the constant alpha to be 1.0 and the constant beta to be 0.0. Notice that we did not have to initialize C's entries to zeros for this reason.

Next is the Makefile. The important part is that we need to link to two more libraries: libacml and libpgftnrtl. This is accomplished by adding them to the LDFLAGS variable.

EXECUTABLE := matrix_multiply
OBJS := main.o

CFLAGS := -O3 -c99 -Minform=warn -fastsse

LDFLAGS := -lm -lacml -lpgftnrtl

CC := mpicc $(INCLUDES)

%.o: %.c %.h
    $(CC) $(CFLAGS) $(DEFS) $(INCLUDES) -c $< -o $@


    -rm -f *.o $(EXECUTABLE)

Download: ../code-2010/blas-matrix-multiply/pgi_acml/Makefile
Compiling the code should look something like this
[araim1@tara-fe1 pgi_acml]$ make
mpicc  -O3 -c99 -Minform=warn -fastsse   -c -o main.o main.c
mpicc  -O3 -c99 -Minform=warn -fastsse   main.o -o matrix_multiply  -lm -lacml -lpgftnrtl
[araim1@tara-fe1 pgi_acml]$ ls
main.c  main.o  Makefile  matrix_multiply
[araim1@tara-fe1 pgi_acml]$ 
Then running the code should look this
[araim1@tara-fe1 pgi_acml]$ ./matrix_multiply
Matrix A (3 x 5) is:
  1.0000  0.7290  0.5314  0.3874  0.2824
  0.9000  0.6561  0.4783  0.3487  0.2542
  0.8100  0.5905  0.4305  0.3138  0.2288

Matrix B (5 x 4) is:
  1.0000  0.5905  0.3487  0.2059
  0.9000  0.5314  0.3138  0.1853
  0.8100  0.4783  0.2824  0.1668
  0.7290  0.4305  0.2542  0.1501
  0.6561  0.3874  0.2288  0.1351

Matrix C (3 x 4) = AB is:
  2.5543  1.5083  0.8906  0.5259
  2.2989  1.3575  0.8016  0.4733
  2.0690  1.2217  0.7214  0.4260
[araim1@tara-fe1 pgi_acml]$
Running the code through the batch system should require no special steps. A standard SLURM script like the one below should be sufficient.
#SBATCH --job-name=matrix_multiply
#SBATCH --output=slurm.out
#SBATCH --error=slurm.err
#SBATCH --partition=develop
#SBATCH --nodes=1
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=1


Download: ../code-2010/blas-matrix-multiply/pgi_acml/run.slurm