created_at2018-08-15 05:46:29.013597
updated_at2024-05-17 21:09:57.287643
descriptionUtilities for zero-copy parsing and serialization
Joshua Liebow-Feeser (joshlf)




Need more out of zerocopy? Submit a customer request issue!

Fast, safe, compile error. Pick two.

Zerocopy makes zero-cost memory manipulation effortless. We write unsafe so you don't have to.


Conversion Traits

Zerocopy provides four derivable traits for zero-cost conversions:

  • TryFromBytes indicates that a type may safely be converted from certain byte sequences (conditional on runtime checks)
  • FromZeros indicates that a sequence of zero bytes represents a valid instance of a type
  • FromBytes indicates that a type may safely be converted from an arbitrary byte sequence
  • IntoBytes indicates that a type may safely be converted to a byte sequence

This traits support sized types, slices, and slice DSTs.

Marker Traits

Zerocopy provides three derivable marker traits that do not provide any functionality themselves, but are required to call certain methods provided by the conversion traits:

  • KnownLayout indicates that zerocopy can reason about certain layout qualities of a type
  • Immutable indicates that a type is free from interior mutability, except by ownership or an exclusive (&mut) borrow
  • Unaligned indicates that a type's alignment requirement is 1

You should generally derive these marker traits whenever possible.

Conversion Macros

Zerocopy provides four macros for safe, zero-cost casting between types:

  • (try_[try_transmute])transmute (conditionally) converts a value of one type to a value of another type of the same size
  • transmute_mut converts a mutable reference of one type to a mutable reference of another type of the same size
  • transmute_ref converts a mutable or immutable reference of one type to an immutable reference of another type of the same size

These macros perform compile-time alignment and size checks, but cannot be used in generic contexts. For generic conversions, use the methods defined by the conversion traits.

Byteorder-Aware Numerics

Zerocopy provides byte-order aware integer types that support these conversions; see the byteorder module. These types are especially useful for network parsing.

Cargo Features

  • alloc By default, zerocopy is no_std. When the alloc feature is enabled, the alloc crate is added as a dependency, and some allocation-related functionality is added.

  • derive Provides derives for the core marker traits via the zerocopy-derive crate. These derives are re-exported from zerocopy, so it is not necessary to depend on zerocopy-derive directly.

    However, you may experience better compile times if you instead directly depend on both zerocopy and zerocopy-derive in your Cargo.toml, since doing so will allow Rust to compile these crates in parallel. To do so, do not enable the derive feature, and list both dependencies in your Cargo.toml with the same leading non-zero version number; e.g:

    zerocopy = "0.X"
    zerocopy-derive = "0.X"
  • simd When the simd feature is enabled, FromZeros, FromBytes, and IntoBytes impls are emitted for all stable SIMD types which exist on the target platform. Note that the layout of SIMD types is not yet stabilized, so these impls may be removed in the future if layout changes make them invalid. For more information, see the Unsafe Code Guidelines Reference page on the layout of packed SIMD vectors.

  • simd-nightly Enables the simd feature and adds support for SIMD types which are only available on nightly. Since these types are unstable, support for any type may be removed at any point in the future.

Security Ethos

Zerocopy is expressly designed for use in security-critical contexts. We strive to ensure that that zerocopy code is sound under Rust's current memory model, and any future memory model. We ensure this by:

  • ...not 'guessing' about Rust's semantics. We annotate unsafe code with a precise rationale for its soundness that cites a relevant section of Rust's official documentation. When Rust's documented semantics are unclear, we work with the Rust Operational Semantics Team to clarify Rust's documentation.
  • ...rigorously testing our implementation. We run tests using Miri, ensuring that zerocopy is sound across a wide array of supported target platforms of varying endianness and pointer width, and across both current and experimental memory models of Rust.
  • ...formally proving the correctness of our implementation. We apply formal verification tools like Kani to prove zerocopy's correctness.

For more information, see our full soundness policy.

Relationship to Project Safe Transmute

Project Safe Transmute is an official initiative of the Rust Project to develop language-level support for safer transmutation. The Project consults with crates like zerocopy to identify aspects of safer transmutation that would benefit from compiler support, and has developed an experimental, compiler-supported analysis which determines whether, for a given type, any value of that type may be soundly transmuted into another type. Once this functionality is sufficiently mature, zerocopy intends to replace its internal transmutability analysis (implemented by our custom derives) with the compiler-supported one. This change will likely be an implementation detail that is invisible to zerocopy's users.

Project Safe Transmute will not replace the need for most of zerocopy's higher-level abstractions. The experimental compiler analysis is a tool for checking the soundness of unsafe code, not a tool to avoid writing unsafe code altogether. For the foreseeable future, crates like zerocopy will still be required in order to provide higher-level abstractions on top of the building block provided by Project Safe Transmute.


See our MSRV policy.


Zerocopy uses GitHub Releases.


Disclaimer: Zerocopy is not an officially supported Google product.

Commit count: 808

cargo fmt