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Attributes_of_Types - Attributes of Types.

__attribute__ ((aligned)) __attribute__ ((aligned (n))) __attribute__ ((packed))


The keyword __attribute__ allows you to specify special attributes of enum, struct and union types when you define such types. This keyword is followed by an attribute specification inside double parentheses. Two attributes are currently defined for types: aligned, and packed.

You may specify type attributes in an enum, struct, or union type declaration or definition, or for other types in a typedef declaration.

For an enum, struct, or union type, you may specify attributes either between the enum, struct or union tag and the name of the type, or just past the closing curly brace of the definition. The former syntax is preferred.

aligned (alignment)

This attribute specifies a minimum alignment (in bytes) for variables of the specified type. For example, the declarations:

struct S { short f[3]; } __attribute__ ((aligned (8))); typedef int more_aligned_int __attribute__ ((aligned (8)));

force the compiler to ensure (as far as it can) that each variable whose type is struct S or more_aligned_int will be allocated and aligned at least on a 8-byte boundary.

Note that the alignment of any given struct or union type is required by the ISO C standard to be at least a perfect multiple of the lowest common multiple of the alignments of all of the members of the struct or union in question and must also be a power of two. This means that you can effectively adjust the alignment of a struct or union type by attaching an aligned attribute to any one of the members of such a type, but the notation illustrated in the example above is a more obvious, intuitive, and readable way to request the compiler to adjust the alignment of an entire struct or union type.

As in the preceding example, you can explicitly specify the alignment (in bytes) that you wish the compiler to use for a given struct or union type. Alternatively, you can leave out the alignment factor and just ask the compiler to align a type to the maximum useful alignment for the target machine you are compiling for. For example, you could write:

struct S { short f[3]; } __attribute__ ((aligned));

Whenever you leave out the alignment factor in an aligned attribute specification, the compiler automatically sets the alignment for the type to the largest alignment which is ever used for any data type on the target machine you are compiling for. In the example above, the size of each short is 2 bytes, and therefore the size of the entire struct S type is 6 bytes. The smallest power of two which is greater than or equal to that is 8, so the compiler sets the alignment for the entire struct S type to 8 bytes.

Note that the effectiveness of aligned attributes may be limited by inherent limitations of the OpenCL device and compiler. For some devices, the OpenCL compiler may only be able to arrange for variables to be aligned up to a certain maximum alignment. If the OpenCL compiler is only able to align variables up to a maximum of 8 byte alignment, then specifying aligned(16) in an __attribute__ will still only provide you with 8 byte alignment. See your platform-specific documentation for further information.

The aligned attribute can only increase the alignment; but you can decrease it by specifying packed as well. See below.


The packed attribute, attached to the struct or union type definition, specifies that each member of the structure or union is placed to minimize the memory required. When attached to an enum definition, it indicates that the smallest integral type should be used.

Specifying this attribute for struct and union types is equivalent to specifying the packed attribute on each of the structure or union members.

In the following example struct my_packed_struct's members are packed closely together, but the internal layout of its s member is not packed. To do that, struct my_unpacked_struct would need to be packed, too.

struct my_unpacked_struct { char c; int i; }; struct __attribute__ ((packed)) my_packed_struct { char c; int i; struct my_unpacked_struct s; };

You may only specify this attribute on the definition of a enum, struct, or union, not on a typedef which does not also define the enumerated type, structure or union.


OpenCL Specification[1]


attribute(3clc), attributes-blocksAndControlFlow(3clc), attributes-variables(3clc)


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OpenCL Specification
page 237, section 6.11.1 - Specifying Attributes of Types
01/14/2021 The Khronos Group