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How can I tell whether my processor has a particular feature? (64-bit instruction set, hardware-assisted virtualization, cryptographic accelerators, etc.) I know that the file /proc/cpuinfo contains this information, in the flags line, but what do all these cryptic abbreviations mean?

For example, given the following extract from /proc/cpuinfo, do I have a 64-bit CPU? Do I have hardware virtualization?

model name      : Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU     E8400  @ 3.00GHz
…
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good aperfmperf pni dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx smx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm sse4_1 lahf_lm tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority
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4 Answers 4

x86

(32-bit a.k.a. i386–i686 and 64-bit a.k.a. amd64. In other words, your workstation, laptop or server.)

FAQ: Do I have…

  • 64-bit (x86_64/AMD64/Intel64)? lm
  • Hardware virtualization (VMX/AMD-V)? vmx (Intel), svm (AMD)
  • Accelerated AES (AES-NI)? aes
  • TXT (TPM)? smx
  • a hypervisor (announced as such)? hypervisor

Most of the other features are only of interest to compiler or kernel authors.

All the flags

The full listing is in the kernel source, in the file arch/x86/include/asm/cpufeature.h.

Intel-defined CPU features, CPUID level 0x00000001 (edx)

See also Wikipedia and table 2-27 in Intel Advanced Vector Extensions Programming Reference

AMD-defined CPU features, CPUID level 0x80000001

See also Wikipedia and table 2-23 in Intel Advanced Vector Extensions Programming Reference

  • syscall: SYSCALL/SYSRET
  • mp: Multiprocessing Capable.
  • nx: Execute Disable
  • mmxext: AMD MMX extensions
  • fxsr_opt: FXSAVE/FXRSTOR optimizations
  • pdpe1gb: GB pages
  • rdtscp: RDTSCP
  • lm: Long Mode (x86-64: amd64, also known as Intel 64, i.e. 64-bit capable)
  • 3dnowext: AMD 3DNow! extensions
  • 3dnow: 3DNow! (AMD vector instructions, competing with Intel's SSE1)

Transmeta-defined CPU features, CPUID level 0x80860001

  • recovery: CPU in recovery mode
  • longrun: Longrun power control
  • lrti: LongRun table interface

Other features, Linux-defined mapping

  • cxmmx: Cyrix MMX extensions
  • k6_mtrr: AMD K6 nonstandard MTRRs
  • cyrix_arr: Cyrix ARRs (= MTRRs)
  • centaur_mcr: Centaur MCRs (= MTRRs)
  • constant_tsc: TSC ticks at a constant rate
  • up: smp kernel running on up
  • arch_perfmon: Intel Architectural PerfMon
  • pebs: Precise-Event Based Sampling
  • bts: Branch Trace Store
  • rep_good: rep microcode works well
  • nopl: The NOPL (0F 1F) instructions
  • xtopology: cpu topology enum extensions
  • tsc_reliable: TSC is known to be reliable
  • nonstop_tsc: TSC does not stop in C states
  • extd_apicid: has extended APICID (8 bits)
  • amd_dcm: multi-node processor
  • aperfmperf: APERFMPERF
  • eagerfpu: Non lazy FPU restore
  • nonstop_tsc_s3: TSC doesn't stop in S3 state

Intel-defined CPU features, CPUID level 0x00000001 (ecx)

See also Wikipedia and table 2-26 in Intel Advanced Vector Extensions Programming Reference

VIA/Cyrix/Centaur-defined CPU features, CPUID level 0xC0000001

  • rng: RNG present (xstore)
  • rng_en: RNG enabled
  • ace: on-CPU crypto (xcrypt)
  • ace_en: on-CPU crypto enabled
  • ace2: Advanced Cryptography Engine v2
  • ace2_en: ACE v2 enabled
  • phe: PadLock Hash Engine
  • phe_en: PHE enabled
  • pmm: PadLock Montgomery Multiplier
  • pmm_en: PMM enabled

More extended AMD flags: CPUID level 0x80000001, ecx

  • lahf_lm: Load AH from Flags (LAHF) and Store AH into Flags (SAHF) in long mode
  • cmp_legacy: If yes HyperThreading not valid
  • svm: “Secure virtual machine”: AMD-V
  • extapic: Extended APIC space
  • cr8_legacy: CR8 in 32-bit mode
  • abm: Advanced bit manipulation
  • sse4a: SSE-4A
  • misalignsse: Misaligned SSE mode
  • 3dnowprefetch: 3DNow prefetch instructions
  • osvw: OS Visible Workaround
  • ibs: Instruction Based Sampling
  • xop: extended AVX instructions
  • skinit: SKINIT/STGI instructions
  • wdt: Watchdog timer
  • lwp: Light Weight Profiling
  • fma4: 4 operands MAC instructions
  • tce: translation cache extension
  • nodeid_msr: NodeId MSR
  • tbm: trailing bit manipulations
  • topoext: topology extensions CPUID leafs
  • perfctr_core: core performance counter extensions
  • perfctr_nb: NB performance counter extensions
  • perfctr_l2: L2 performance counter extensions

Auxiliary flags: Linux defined - For features scattered in various CPUID levels

  • ida: Intel Dynamic Acceleration
  • arat: Always Running APIC Timer
  • cpb: AMD Core Performance Boost
  • epb: IA32_ENERGY_PERF_BIAS support
  • xsaveopt: Optimized Xsave
  • pln: Intel Power Limit Notification
  • pts: Intel Package Thermal Status
  • dts: Digital Thermal Sensor
  • hw_pstate: AMD HW-PState
  • proc_feedback: AMD ProcFeedbackInterface
  • intel_pt: Intel Processor Tracing

Virtualization flags: Linux defined

  • tpr_shadow: Intel TPR Shadow
  • vnmi: Intel Virtual NMI
  • flexpriority: Intel FlexPriority
  • ept: Intel Extended Page Table
  • vpid: Intel Virtual Processor ID
  • npt: AMD Nested Page Table support
  • lbrv: AMD LBR Virtualization support
  • svm_lock: AMD SVM locking MSR
  • nrip_save: AMD SVM next_rip save
  • tsc_scale: AMD TSC scaling support
  • vmcb_clean: AMD VMCB clean bits support
  • flushbyasid: AMD flush-by-ASID support
  • decodeassists: AMD Decode Assists support
  • pausefilter: AMD filtered pause intercept
  • pfthreshold: AMD pause filter threshold

Intel-defined CPU features, CPUID level 0x00000007:0 (ebx)

  • fsgsbase: {RD/WR}{FS/GS}BASE instructions
  • bmi1: 1st group bit manipulation extensions
  • hle: Hardware Lock Elision
  • avx2: AVX2 instructions
  • smep: Supervisor Mode Execution Protection
  • bmi2: 2nd group bit manipulation extensions
  • erms: Enhanced REP MOVSB/STOSB
  • invpcid: Invalidate Processor Context ID
  • rtm: Restricted Transactional Memory
  • mpx: Memory Protection Extension
  • rdseed: The RDSEED instruction
  • adx: The ADCX and ADOX instructions
  • smap: Supervisor Mode Access Prevention

P.S. This listing was derived from arch/x86/include/asm/cpufeature.h in the kernel source. The flags are listed in the same order as the source code. Please help by adding links to descriptions of features when they're missing, by writing a short description of features that have an unexpressive names, and by updating the list for new kernel versions. The current list is from Linux 3.14.1.

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ARM

On ARM processors, a few features are mentioned in the features: line. Only features directly related to the ARM architecture are mentioned there, not features specific to a silicon manufacturer or system-on-chip.

The features are obtained from looking up the CPU id with read_cpuid() and looking it up in the processor type definitions known at compile time where the features are expressed as a mask of HWCAP_xxx flags.

Beyond that, the Hardware: line indicates the processor model. Depending on the model, there may be other information in other files under /proc or /sys, or in boot-time kernel log messages. Unfortunately each ARM CPU manufacturer has its own method for reporting processor features, if any.

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Or alternatively you can use cpuid program, it must be in debian repository. It dumps every possible info about your CPU with some explanations, so you don't get those obscure flags.

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cpuid expands the abbreviations. I wouldn't really call its output explanations. Knowing that ht means “Hyper Threading” explains it to some extent, but knowing that mmx means “MMX instruction set”, not so much, and that mca means “Machine Check Architecture”, hardly. –  Gilles May 22 '14 at 18:10
3  
@Gilles ...and yet, "Machine Check Architecture" is certainly better Google query than "mca" ;) –  Alois Mahdal Jun 6 '14 at 10:07

x86

Find it yourself in 4.1.3 x86 and the Intel manual

arch/x86/include/asm/cpufeature.h contains the full list.

The define values are of type:

X*32 + Y

E.g.:

#define X86_FEATURE_FPU     ( 0*32+ 0) /* Onboard FPU */

The features flags, extracted from CPUID, are stored inside the:

  • __u32 x86_capability[NCAPINTS + NBUGINTS]; field
  • of struct cpuinfo_x86 boot_cpu_data
  • defined at x86/kernel/setup.c

which is initialized through __init functions.

Where each x86_capability array element comes from:

| index | eax      | ecx | output | file        |
|-------|----------|-----|--------|-------------|
|     0 |        1 |   0 | edx    | common.c    |
|     1 | 80000001 |     | edx    | common.c    |
|     2 | 80860001 |     | edx    | transmeta.c |
|     3 |          |     |        |             |
|     4 |        1 |   0 | ecx    | common.c    |
|     5 | C0000001 |     | edx    | centaur.c   |
|     6 | 80000001 |     | ecx    | common.c    |
|     7 |          |     |        | scattered.c |
|     8 |          |     |        |             |
|     9 |        7 |   0 | ebx    | common.c    |
|    10 |        D |   1 | eax    | common.c    |
|    11 |        F |   0 | edx    | common.c    |
|    12 |        F |   1 | edx    | common.c    |

Notes:

Conclusions:

  • most entries come directly from CPUID output registers and are set in common.c by something like:

    c->x86_capability[0] = edx;
    

    Those are easy to find in batch on the Intel manual for CPUID.

  • the others are scattered throughout the source, and are set bit by bit with set_cpu_cap.

    To find them, use git grep X86_FEATURE_XXX inside arch/x86.

    You can usually deduce what CPUID bit they correspond to from the surrounding code.

Other fun facts

  • The flags are actually printed at arch/x86/kernel/cpu/proc.c with the code:

    seq_puts(m, "flags\t\t:");
    for (i = 0; i < 32*NCAPINTS; i++)
        if (cpu_has(c, i) && x86_cap_flags[i] != NULL)
            seq_printf(m, " %s", x86_cap_flags[i]);
    

    Where:

    • cpu_has does the main check for the feature.
    • x86_cap_flags[i] contains strings that correspond to each flags.

    This gets passed as a callback to the proc system setup. The entry point is at fs/proc/cpuinfo.c.

  • x86_cap_flags strings are generated by arch/x86/kernel/cpu/mkcapflags.h directly from arch/x86/include/asm/cpufeature.h by "parsing" it with sed...

    The output goes to arch/x86/kernel/cpu/capflags.c of the build directory, and resulting array looks like:

    const char * const x86_cap_flags[NCAPINTS*32] = {
        [X86_FEATURE_FPU]        = "fpu",
        [X86_FEATURE_VME]        = "vme",
    

    so for example X86_FEATURE_FPU corresponds to the string "fpu" and so on.

  • cpu_has breaks down into two cases with code:

    #define cpu_has(c, bit)                         \
        (__builtin_constant_p(bit) && REQUIRED_MASK_BIT_SET(bit) ? 1 :  \
        test_cpu_cap(c, bit))
    

    They are:

    • __builtin_constant_p(bit) && REQUIRED_MASK_BIT_SET(bit): the flag is required for the kernel to run.

      This is determined by data inside required-features.h, which comments:

      Define minimum CPUID feature set for kernel These bits are checked
      really early to actually display a visible error message before the
      kernel dies.  Make sure to assign features to the proper mask!
      

      Since those are known at compile time (kernel requirements), have already been checked at startup, the check can be resolved at compile time if bit is known at compile time.

      Thus the __builtin_constant_p(bit) which checks if bit is a compile time constant.

    • test_cpu_cap: this uses up CPUID data from the struct cpuinfo_x86 boot_cpu_data global

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1  
You've explained how to go from the abbreviation to a longer name, but often that longer name isn't much more comprehensible, and cpuid does it in a more convenient way. I asked that question to have a place where the names are documented. –  Gilles Aug 1 at 21:04
    
@Gilles this is mostly for those who want to make the tables / cannot find their feature in the table, like me :-) But still, for most cases, once you look at the right point of the source, the map to CPUID is immediate. –  Ciro Santilli 六四事件 法轮功 纳米比亚 威视 Aug 1 at 21:07

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