Why do I get a segmentation fault problem in this program when the matrix dimension is too large (in ifort)?

I'm making basic linear algebra computations with matrices and vectors in Fortran. I have changed compiler from gfortran to ifort and I've found that when my matrices get too large (specifically when they are of size 724 x 724, of type complex double) I get the following error (segmentation fault):

forrtl: severe (174): SIGSEGV, segmentation fault occurred
Image              PC                Routine            Line        Source             
dummy              000000000040C9DA  Unknown               Unknown  Unknown
libpthread-2.28.s  00007FB2CAB57CE0  Unknown               Unknown  Unknown
dummy              0000000000403D57  Unknown               Unknown  Unknown
dummy              0000000000402B22  Unknown               Unknown  Unknown       00007FB2CA7BACF3  __libc_start_main     Unknown  Unknown
dummy              0000000000402A2E  Unknown               Unknown  Unknown

I've managed to boil the problem down to this minimal program:

program dummy

  use ifport
  use iso_c_binding, dp => c_double, ip => c_int, dcp => c_double_complex
  implicit none

  integer (ip)     ::  dim 
  complex(dcp), dimension(:,:), allocatable :: U

  write (*,*) "dim"
  read (*,*) dim 

  print *, "Allocating U."

  print *, "dim = ", dim, "dim^2 = ", dim**2, "size(U) = ", size(U)
  print *, "Building U..."
  U = 0 
  print *, "U initialized (set to zero)."

  print *, "Testing matrix multiplication matmul(U, U)"
  U = matmul(U,U)
  print *, "U built."

end program

which is compiled either with ifort dummy.f90 -o dummy or gfortran dummy.f90 -o dummy (ifport is not used with gfortran). Additional flags such as -fpp -check all, bounds -warn all -pedantic do not give additional information on the source of error.

This stops working for dim = 724 with ifort, while it works for much larger sizes with gfortran (I've tested for a few thousands with no problem). The error appears as soon as the matrix multiplication is performed. Indeed, even at dim = 10000 I have no problem allocating the first matrix with both programs, but with ifort I always get that the segmentation fault error (although with gfortran it's very slow, albeit expected a these sizes - I have not checked that the result of matrix multiplication is correct in any case).

Also, the program has been run with two different machines, although I do not expect a memory problem on the one with ifort, as by a simple calculation from free and cat /proc/cpuinfo/ I have 72 processors with ~10GB of memory each (and no one else is using this cluster at the moment). Thus, by a handwaving calculation, a matrix of type complex double would need to have dimension sqrt(10 * 10^9 / 16) ~ 25000 to completely fill the memory of one processor and I'm nowhere near that.

What is the source of the error? As it's quite generic, I haven't managed to understand the reason, as well as the inconsistency between gfortran and ifort. A test with different machines and compiler versions would also be very much appreciated. Thanks.


  • The statement U = matmult(U,U) requires a hidden temporary array of the size of U. The ifort compiler will allocate by default all the temporary arrays on the stack (which has a limited size), whereas the gfortran compiler allocates the large arrays on the heap (which is limited only by the available memory on the machine).

    So you have 2 solutions here:

    • increase the stack size. On linux type the command ulimit unlimited to remove any size limit for the stack
    • use the ifort -heap-arrays option, which forces all temporary (and automatic) arrays to be allocated on the heap