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Beginner's guide to compile MKL in windows10 without a full VS2015 installation

I would like to share my experience compiling MKL in windows 10 without a full VS2015 installation. Hopefully this will save some unnecessary trial and error efforts. Since I was doing it on my Intel laptop, which has a very precious and limited SSD space (unless you charge your department for an SSD upgrade), I cannot afford (>16GB) full VS2015 installation on my precious SSD.

Here are the steps:

1. You can get a full-fledge (>16GB installation) VS2015 from ISM (Intel Software Market). But I opted for visualcppbuildtools_full.exe from Download and install it (You can skip the windows SDK to save disk space)

2. Download and install MKL from

3. Assuming that no1 and no2 are installed to the default target directory. Edit "compilervar_arch.bat" in the following path: C:\IntelSWTools\compilers_and_libraries_2017.2.187\windows\bin\compilervars_arch.bat

(ie. comment out the existence check for devenv.exe, which I don't have without a full VS2015 installation; Left is the edit, right is the original file)


Now we are ready to play with some examples provided in the MKL installation: C:\IntelSWTools\compilers_and_libraries_2017.2.187\windows\mkl\examples

I would recommend unzipping it out and copying a small examples to your "My Documents" area

Let me walk you with one simple example. I will show you 3 ways of compiling it. Let's try out examples_core_c\cblas\. Copy out data\cblas_sgemm_batchx.d, source\cblas_sgemm_batchx.c, source\common_func.c, source\mkl_example.h, cblas.lst, makefile. Please maintain the same directory structure as in the example folder:

|-- cblas.lst
|-- data
|   `-- cblas_sgemm_batchx.d
|-- makefile
|-- source
|   |-- cblas_sgemm_batchx.c
|   |-- common_func.c
|   `-- mkl_example.h

Open up a windows console: windows-R: cmd, cd into the folder you copied over that example, ie. when you dir, you should see makefile, cblas.lst, data, source. Then type the following:

(I have a 64bit windows10 hp laptop, which is a quite generic IntelIT laptop for every employee, hence the "intel64" at the end of the following line)

>call "C:\Program Files (x86)\IntelSWTools\compilers_and_libraries_2017.2.187\windows\bin\compilervars.bat" intel64

This command will setup your environment variables. This will also call "compilervars_arch.bat", that in turn calls "vcvarsall.bat" (the VS2015 env var setup)

These are the 3 ways to compile:

1. Using nmake from VS2015, since the MKL example provides us a "makefile". I don't have icc on my machine, so I will just use cl.exe from VS2015

>nmake libintel64 function=cblas_sgemm_batch+ compiler=msvs /f makefile

The exe in under _results\ folder. Run this to checkout the exe

>_results\msvs_lp64_parallel_intel64_lib\cblas_sgemm_batchx.exe data\cblas_sgemm_batchx.d

2. Directly invoking cl.exe

>cl.exe /w /MT /Femy_cl /IC:\Users\hpandana\myhomedir\mkl_test\my_cl\source source\common_func.c source\cblas_sgemm_batchx.c mkl_core.lib mkl_intel_lp64.lib mkl_intel_thread.lib libiomp5md.lib

(some explanations: /Fe specifies my output exe filename, eg. my_cl.exe in this example; I copied over that example to this path: C:\Users\hpandana\myhomedir\mkl_test\my_cl, so please edit your /I include path accordingly. This method does not require "makefile", and its supporting "cblas.lst" file)

|-- data
|   `-- cblas_sgemm_batchx.d
`-- source
    |-- cblas_sgemm_batchx.c
    |-- common_func.c
    `-- mkl_example.h

Just like before, to try out the exe:

>my_cl.exe data\cblas_sgemm_batchx.d

3. Using gcc. I have the strawberry perl (from ISM) installed, that comes with gcc. Any mingw gcc should work as well. Again it is installed at the default target directory (ie. C:\strawberry). I copied over the example again:

|-- data
|   `-- cblas_sgemm_batchx.d
`-- source
    |-- cblas_sgemm_batchx.c
    |-- common_func.c
    `-- mkl_example.h

(please edit the -I include paths, and -L libpaths in the following line accordingly)

>gcc.exe -o my_gcc -IC:\strawberry\c\include -I"C:\Program Files (x86)\IntelSWTools\compilers_and_libraries_2017.2.187\windows\mkl\include" -IC:\Users\hpandana\myhomedir\mkl_test\my_cl\source -LC:\strawberry\c\lib -LC:\strawberry\c\lib\gcc\x86_64-w64-mingw32\4.7.3 -L"C:\IntelSWTools\compilers_and_libraries_2017.2.187\windows\redist\intel64_win\mkl" -L"C:\IntelSWTools\compilers_and_libraries_2017.2.187\windows\redist\intel64_win\compiler" source\common_func.c source\cblas_sgemm_batchx.c -lmkl_core -lmkl_rt -lmkl_intel_thread -liomp5md

Again, to try out the exe:

>my_gcc.exe data\cblas_sgemm_batchx.d

That's all. Hope it helps



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Hi Herman, 

Thanks for sharing the experience. I think it would be helpful if some guy would like to compile MKL or other Intel library without VS full package installation, they probably could refer this case.