Build Configuration Options

RAJA uses BLT, a CMake-based build system. In Getting Started With RAJA, we described how to run CMake to configure RAJA with its default option settings. In this section, we describe all RAJA configuration options, their defaults, and how to enable or disable features.

Setting Options

The RAJA configuration can be set using standard CMake variables along with BLT and RAJA-specific variables. For example, to make a release build with some system default GNU compiler and then install the RAJA header files and libraries in a specific directory location, you could do the following in the top-level RAJA directory:

$ mkdir build-gnu-release
$ cd build-gnu-release
$ cmake \
  -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=../install-gnu-release ../
$ make
$ make install

Following CMake conventions, RAJA supports three build types: Release, RelWithDebInfo, and Debug. With CMake, compiler flags for each of these build types are applied automatically and so you do not have to specify them. However, if you want to apply other compiler flags, you will need to do that using appropriate CMake variables.

All RAJA options are set like regular CMake variables. RAJA settings for default options, compilers, flags for optimization, etc. can be found in files in the RAJA/cmake directory and top-level CMakeLists.txt file. Configuration variables can be set by passing arguments to CMake on the command line when CMake is called, or by setting options in a CMake cache file and passing that file to CMake using the CMake -C options. For example, to enable RAJA OpenMP functionality, pass the following argument to CMake:


The RAJA repository contains a collection of CMake cache files (we call them host-config files) that may be used as a guide for users trying to set their own options. See configopt-raja-hostconfig-label.

Next, we summarize RAJA options and their defaults.

Available RAJA Options and Defaults

RAJA uses a variety of custom variables to control how it is compiled. Many of these are used internally to control RAJA compilation and do not need to be set by users. Others can be used to enable or disable certain RAJA features. Most variables get translated to compiler directives and definitions in the RAJA config.hpp file that is generated when CMake runs. The config.hpp header file is included in other RAJA headers as needed so all options propagate consistently through the build process for all of the code. Each RAJA variable has a special prefix to distinguish it as being specific to RAJA; i.e., it is not a BLT variable or a standard CMake variable.

The following tables describe which variables set RAJA options and and their default settings:

  • Examples, tests, warnings, etc.

    Variables that control whether RAJA tests, examples, or tutorial exercises are built when RAJA is compiled:

    Variable Default

    RAJA can also be configured to build with compiler warnings reported as errors, which may be useful to make sure your application builds cleanly:

    Variable Default

    RAJA Views/Layouts may be configured to check for out of bounds indexing at runtime:

    Variable Default

    Note that RAJA bounds checking is a runtime check and will add execution time overhead. Thus, this feature should not be enabled for release builds.

  • Programming model back-ends

    Variables that control which RAJA programming model back-ends are enabled are (names are descriptive of what they enable):

    Variable Default
    ENABLE_TARGET_OPENMP Off (when on, ENABLE_OPENMP must also be on)

    Other compilation options are available via the following:

    Variable Default
    ENABLE_CLANG_CUDA Off (when on, ENABLE_CUDA must also be on)
    ENABLE_CUB On (when CUDA enabled)
    CUDA_ARCH sm_35 (set based on hardware support)

    Turning the ‘ENABLE_CLANG_CUDA’ variable on will build CUDA code with the native support in the Clang compiler.

    The ‘ENABLE_CUB’ variable is used to enable NVIDIA CUB library support for RAJA CUDA scans. Since the CUB library is included in RAJA as a Git submodule, users should not have to set this in most cases.


See getting-started-label for more information about setting other options for RAJA back-ends.

  • Data types, sizes, alignment, etc.

    RAJA provides type aliases that can be used to parameterize floating point types in applications, which makes it easier to switch between types.

    The following variables are used to set the data type for the type alias RAJA::Real_type:

    Variable Default

    Similarly, the ‘RAJA::Complex_type’ can be enabled to support complex numbers if needed:

    Variable Default

    When turned on, the RAJA Complex_type is ‘std::complex<Real_type>’.

    There are several variables to control the definition of the RAJA floating-point data pointer type RAJA::Real_ptr. The base data type is always Real_type. When RAJA is compiled for CPU execution only, the defaults are:

    Variable Default

    When RAJA is compiled with CUDA enabled, the defaults are:

    Variable Default

    The meaning of these variables is:

    Variable Meaning
    RAJA_USE_BARE_PTR Use standard C-style pointer
    RAJA_USE_RESTRICT_PTR Use C-style pointer with restrict qualifier
    RAJA_USE_RESTRICT_ALIGNED_PTR Use C-style pointer with restrict qualifier and alignment attribute (see RAJA_DATA_ALIGN below)
    RAJA_USE_PTR_CLASS Use pointer class with overloaded [] operator that applies restrict and alignment intrinsics. This is useful when a compiler does not support attributes in a typedef.

    RAJA internally uses a parameter to define platform-specific constant data alignment. The variable that control this is:

    Variable Default

    What this variable means:

    Variable Meaning
    RAJA_DATA_ALIGN Specifies data alignment used in intrinsics and typedefs; units of bytes.

    For details on the options in this section are used, please see the header file RAJA/include/RAJA/util/types.hpp.

  • Timer Options

    RAJA provides a simple portable timer class that is used in RAJA example codes to determine execution timing and can be used in other apps as well. This timer can use any of three internal timers depending on your preferences, and one should be selected by setting the ‘RAJA_TIMER’ variable. If the ‘RAJA_USE_CALIPER’ variable is turned on (off by default), the timer will also offer Caliper-based region annotations. Information about using Caliper can be found at Caliper

    Variable Values
    RAJA_TIMER chrono (default) gettime clock

    What these variables mean:

    Value Meaning
    chrono Use the std::chrono library from the C++ standard library
    gettime Use timespec from the C standard library time.h file
    clock Use clock_t from time.h
  • Other RAJA Features

    RAJA contains some features that are used mainly for development or may not be of general interest to RAJA users. These are turned off be default. They are described here for reference and completeness.

    ENABLE_FT Enable/disable RAJA experimental

    loop-level fault-tolerance mechanism

    RAJA_REPORT_FT Enable/disable a report of fault-

    tolerance enabled run (e.g., number of faults detected, recovered from, recovery overhead, etc.)

    RAJA_ENABLE_RUNTIME_PLUGINS Enable support for dynamically loading

    RAJA plugins.

Setting RAJA Back-End Features

Various ENABLE_* options are listed above for enabling RAJA back-ends, such as OpenMP and CUDA. To access compiler and hardware optimization features, it may be necessary to pass additional options to CMake. Please see Getting Started With RAJA for more information.