Matlab's matmul much faster than julia's


I observed that on my machine matlab’s matmul faster than julia’s. I am quite confused since it seems I have already aligned all the different factors.

Here is a minimal working example.
Julia code:

using MKL
using SparseArrays
using BenchmarkTools
using MAT


n = 10^3 
A = randn(n, n)
B = randn(n, n)

@btime $A * $B;
    Dict("A" => A, "B" => B))

whose output is

46.958 ms (2 allocations: 7.63 MiB)

and matlab code:

function benchmark(reps)
    setenv("MKL_NUM_THREADS", "1");
    setenv("OMP_NUM_THREADS", "1");
    setenv("OPENBLAS_NUM_THREADS", "1");
    data = load('~/matmul_data.mat');
    A = data.A;
    B = data.B; 
    n = size(A, 1);
    times = zeros(1, reps);
    prod = randn(n, n);
    for i = 1:reps
        tic; % Start timing
        C = A * B; % Perform dense-dense matrix multiplication
        times(i) = toc; % Stop timing and record the duration
        D = randn(n, n);
        prod = prod * (C + D); % avoid C being optimized away 
    averageTime = mean(times);
    fprintf('Average execution time: %.4f seconds\n', averageTime);

Running benchmark(100) gives me

Average execution time: 0.0081 seconds

which is about 5-6x faster than julia. Is there any step I omitted such that the comparison isn’t fair?

You have 246.9 GFLOPS.


  1. Your MATLAB is running multithreaded.
  2. You have Apple silicon and MATLAB is using AppleAccelerate to use their special matrix cores.

I am no matlab expert, so this is just speculation

is it possible that the setenv calls are not actually affecting the number of threads, since they are set internally after the matlab session is already running ? maybe try setting those environment variables outside of the matlab code


I originally set the environment variable in my shell and it didn’t work so I tried setenv.

It turns out my matlab was still multithreading, I should start it with -singleCompThread. Now it’s even.


That used to be my favorite discourse title


what is your new favorite??? :face_with_monocle:

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“jax/mojo is faster than julia” :blush:
By “favorite” I meant for this type of questions, these are not my favorite discourse questions at all

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