zfp has evolved from a research prototype to a library that is approaching production readiness. However, the API and even the compression codec are still undergoing changes as new important features are added.

Below is a list of known limitations of the current version of zfp. See the section on Future Directions for a discussion of planned features that will address some of these limitations.

  • Special floating-point values like infinity and NaN are supported in reversible mode but not in zfp’s lossy compression modes. Subnormal floating-point numbers are, however, correctly handled. There is an implicit assumption that floating point conforms to IEEE-754, though extensions to other floating-point formats should be possible with minor effort.
  • The optional zfp header supports arrays with at most 248 elements. The zfp header limits each dimension to 248/d elements in a d-dimensional array, i.e., 248, 224, 216, and 212 for 1D through 4D arrays, respectively. Note that this limitation applies only to the header; array dimensions are otherwise limited only by the size of an unsigned integer.
  • Conventional pointers and references to individual array elements are not available. That is, constructions like double* ptr = &a[i]; are not possible when a is a zfp array. However, as of zfp 0.5.2, proxy pointers are available that act much like pointers to uncompressed data. Similarly, operators [] and () do not return regular C++ references. Instead, a proxy reference class is used (similar to how STL bit vectors are implemented). These proxy references and pointers can, however, safely be passed to functions and used where regular references and pointers can.
  • Although the current version of zfp supports iterators, pointers, and references to array elements, ‘const’ versions of these accessors are not yet available for read-only access.
  • zfp can potentially provide higher precision than conventional float and double arrays, but the interface currently does not expose this. For example, such added precision could be useful in finite difference computations, where catastrophic cancellation can be an issue when insufficient precision is available.
  • Only single and double precision types are supported. Generalizations to IEEE half and quad precision would be useful. For instance, compressed 64-bit-per-value storage of 128-bit quad-precision numbers could greatly improve the accuracy of double-precision floating-point computations using the same amount of storage.
  • Complex-valued arrays are not directly supported. Real and imaginary components must be stored as separate arrays, which may result in lost opportunities for compression, e.g., if the complex magnitude is constant and only the phase varies.
  • Version 0.5.3 adds support for OpenMP compression. However, OpenMP decompression is not yet supported.
  • Version 0.5.4 adds support for CUDA compression and decompression. However, only the fixed-rate compression mode is so far supported.
  • As of version 0.5.4, zfp supports compression and decompression of 4D arrays. However, zfp does not yet implement a 4D compressed array C++ class. This will be added in the near future.
  • The C wrappers for zfp’s compressed arrays support only basic array accesses. There is currently no C interface for proxy references, pointers, iterators, or views.
  • The Python and Fortran bindings do not yet support compressed arrays. Moreover, only a select subset of the high-level API is available via Python.