17.2.421. MPI_Unpack_external

MPI_Unpack_external — Reads data from a portable format

17.2.421.1. SYNTAX

17.2.421.1.1. C Syntax

#include <mpi.h>

int MPI_Unpack_external(const char datarep[], const void *inbuf,
     MPI_Aint insize, MPI_Aint *position,
     void *outbuf, int outcount,
     MPI_Datatype datatype)

17.2.421.1.2. Fortran Syntax

! or the older form: INCLUDE 'mpif.h'

     <type>          INBUF(*), OUTBUF(*)

17.2.421.1.3. Fortran 2008 Syntax

USE mpi_f08
MPI_Unpack_external(datarep, inbuf, insize, position, outbuf, outcount,
             datatype, ierror)
     CHARACTER(LEN=*), INTENT(IN) :: datarep
     TYPE(*), DIMENSION(..), INTENT(IN) :: inbuf
     TYPE(*), DIMENSION(..) :: outbuf
     INTEGER, INTENT(IN) :: outcount
     TYPE(MPI_Datatype), INTENT(IN) :: datatype


  • datarep: Data Representation (string).

  • inbuf: Input buffer start (choice).

  • insize: Size of input buffer, in bytes (integer).

  • outcount: Number of items to be unpacked (integer).

  • datatype: Datatype of each output data item (handle).


  • position: Current position in buffer, in bytes (integer).


  • outbuf: Output buffer start (choice).

  • ierror: Fortran only: Error status (integer).

17.2.421.5. DESCRIPTION

MPI_Unpack_external unpacks data from the external32 format, a universal data representation defined by the MPI Forum. This format is useful for exchanging data between MPI implementations, or when writing data to a file.

The input buffer is a contiguous storage area pointed to by inbuf containing insize bytes. The output buffer can be any communication buffer allowed in MPI_Recv, and is specified by outbuf, outcount, and datatype.

The input value of position is the first position in inbuf to be read for unpacking (measured in bytes, not elements, relative to the start of the buffer). When the function returns, position is incremented by the size of the packed message, so that it points to the first location in inbuf following the message that was unpacked. This way it may be used as input to a subsequent call to MPI_Unpack_external.

17.2.421.6. NOTES

Note the difference between MPI_Recv and MPI_Unpack_external: In MPI_Recv, the count argument specifies the maximum number of items that can be received. In MPI_Unpack_external, the outcount argument specifies the actual number of items that are to be unpacked. With a regular receive operation, the incoming message size determines the number of components that will be received. With MPI_Unpack_external, it is up to the user to specify how many components to unpack, since the user may wish to unpack the received message multiple times into various buffers.

To understand the behavior of pack and unpack, it is convenient to think of the data part of a message as being the sequence obtained by concatenating the successive values sent in that message. The pack operation stores this sequence in the buffer space, as if sending the message to that buffer. The unpack operation retrieves this sequence from buffer space, as if receiving a message from that buffer. (It is helpful to think of internal Fortran files or sscanf in C for a similar function.)

Several messages can be successively packed into one packing unit. This is effected by several successive related calls to MPI_Pack_external, where the first call provides position=0, and each successive call inputs the value of position that was output by the previous call, along with the same values for outbuf and outcount. This packing unit now contains the equivalent information that would have been stored in a message by one send call with a send buffer that is the “concatenation” of the individual send buffers.

A packing unit can be sent using type MPI_BYTE. Any point-to-point or collective communication function can be used to move the sequence of bytes that forms the packing unit from one process to another. This packing unit can now be received using any receive operation, with any datatype: The type-matching rules are relaxed for messages sent with type MPI_BYTE.

A packing unit can be unpacked into several successive messages. This is effected by several successive related calls to MPI_Unpack_external, where the first call provides position=0, and each successive call inputs the value of position that was output by the previous call, and the same values for inbuf and insize.

The concatenation of two packing units is not necessarily a packing unit; nor is a substring of a packing unit necessarily a packing unit. Thus, one cannot concatenate two packing units and then unpack the result as one packing unit; nor can one unpack a substring of a packing unit as a separate packing unit. Each packing unit that was created by a related sequence of pack calls must be unpacked as a unit by a sequence of related unpack calls.

17.2.421.7. ERRORS

Almost all MPI routines return an error value; C routines as the return result of the function and Fortran routines in the last argument.

Before the error value is returned, the current MPI error handler associated with the communication object (e.g., communicator, window, file) is called. If no communication object is associated with the MPI call, then the call is considered attached to MPI_COMM_SELF and will call the associated MPI error handler. When MPI_COMM_SELF is not initialized (i.e., before MPI_Init/MPI_Init_thread, after MPI_Finalize, or when using the Sessions Model exclusively) the error raises the initial error handler. The initial error handler can be changed by calling MPI_Comm_set_errhandler on MPI_COMM_SELF when using the World model, or the mpi_initial_errhandler CLI argument to mpiexec or info key to MPI_Comm_spawn/MPI_Comm_spawn_multiple. If no other appropriate error handler has been set, then the MPI_ERRORS_RETURN error handler is called for MPI I/O functions and the MPI_ERRORS_ABORT error handler is called for all other MPI functions.

Open MPI includes three predefined error handlers that can be used:

  • MPI_ERRORS_ARE_FATAL Causes the program to abort all connected MPI processes.

  • MPI_ERRORS_ABORT An error handler that can be invoked on a communicator, window, file, or session. When called on a communicator, it acts as if MPI_Abort was called on that communicator. If called on a window or file, acts as if MPI_Abort was called on a communicator containing the group of processes in the corresponding window or file. If called on a session, aborts only the local process.

  • MPI_ERRORS_RETURN Returns an error code to the application.

MPI applications can also implement their own error handlers by calling:

Note that MPI does not guarantee that an MPI program can continue past an error.

See the MPI man page for a full list of MPI error codes.

See the Error Handling section of the MPI-3.1 standard for more information.