When building building ROCm from source code, a term named xnack usually appears next to the GPU architecture code name with a suffix + or - (e.g., gfx908:xnack-). xnack (pronounced as X-knack) refers to whether page migration will happen when a memory fault occurs in the GPU kernel execution. When disabled (xpack-), the accessed data (page) stays still at the host side (CPU DRAM), acting like a pinned CPU memory. On the other hand, automatic migration happens right after the GPU page fault in favor of locality. Subsequent requests then locate in the GPU VRAM.

xnack in compiler

There is an option --offload-arch in hipcc which receives the target ID1 (e.g., sm_80 for NVIDIA Ampere and gfx1030:xnack- for AMD Navi21, where gfx1030 is the processor and xnack- is the optional target-feature). When specifying AMD GPU as the compiled object target, a xnack suffix can be appended with + or - indicating whether xnack is enabled.


Note that current version of LLVM will emit code object V4 for AMD GPU kernels1.

Under the default code object V4 without specifying the xnack, GPU kernel runs well on devices regardless whether xnack is supported or enabled.

Software requirements

Note that xnack is available in recent computing GPUs (CDNA series), and xnack is deprecated since RDNA2 (i.e., gfx10 and later)2 1. Beyond this, some software requirements must be satisfied to enable xnack in supported GPUs:

  • Linux kernel with HMM
  • Set the module parameter: sudo echo 'options amdgpu noretry=0' > /etc/modprobe.d/amdgpu.conf, and reload the amdgpu kernel module. Check the value with cat /sys/module/amdgpu/parameters/noretry (-1 in Ubuntu 22.04 by default)
  • Set HSA_XNACK=1 since it’s disabled by default



  1. https://llvm.org/docs/AMDGPUUsage.html 2 3

  2. https://niconiconi.neocities.org/tech-notes/xnack-on-amd-gpus/