#hasher #hash #simd #avx #HighwayHash

no-std highway

Native Rust port of Google’s HighwayHash, which makes use of SIMD instructions for a fast and strong hash function

12 unstable releases (5 breaking)

new 0.6.2 Nov 20, 2020
0.6.0 Oct 25, 2020
0.5.0 Jun 24, 2020
0.3.0 Aug 8, 2019
0.1.4 Oct 1, 2018

#22 in Algorithms

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571 downloads per month
Used in yadf

MIT license

1.5K SLoC

ci Rust Version


This crate is a native Rust port of Google's HighwayHash, which is a fast, keyed, and strong hash function.


  • ✔ pure / stable rust
  • ✔ zero dependencies
  • ✔ generate 64, 128, and 256bit hashes
  • ✔ > 10 GB/s with SIMD (SSE 4.1 & AVX 2) aware instructions on x86 architectures
  • ✔ > 1 GB/s portable implementation with only one instance of unsafe
  • ✔ passes reference test suite
  • ✔ incremental / streaming hashes
  • ✔ zero heap allocations
  • no_std compatible
  • ✔ fuzzed against in-house fuzzing suite


HighwayHash (the algorithm) has not undergone extensive cryptanalysis like SipHash (the default hashing algorithm in Rust), but according to the authors, HighwayHash output bits are uniformly distributed and should withstand differential and rotational attacks. Hence HighwayHash is referred to as a strong hash function, not a cryptographic hash function. I encourage anyone interested to peruse the paper to understand the risks.


The quickest way to get started:

use highway::{HighwayHasher, HighwayHash};
let res: u64 = HighwayHasher::default().hash64(&[]);
let res2: [u64; 2] = HighwayHasher::default().hash128(&[]);
let res3: [u64; 4] = HighwayHasher::default().hash256(&[]);

A more complete tour of the API follows:

use highway::{HighwayHasher, HighwayHash, Key};

// HighwayHash requires a key that should be hidden from attackers
// to ensure outputs are unpredictable, so attackers can't mount
// DoS attacks.
let key = Key([1, 2, 3, 4]);

// A HighwayHasher is the recommended approach to hashing,
// as it will select the fastest algorithm available
let mut hasher = HighwayHasher::new(key);

// Append some data

// After all data has been appended, you ask for
// 64, 128, or 256bit output. The hasher is consumed
// after finalization.
let res: u64 = hasher.finalize64();

assert_eq!(0x07858f24d_2d79b2b2, res);

Creating a 128bit and 256bit hash is just as simple.

use highway::{HighwayHasher, HighwayHash, Key};

// Generate 128bit hash
let key = Key([1, 2, 3, 4]);
let mut hasher128 = HighwayHasher::new(key);
let res128: [u64; 2] = hasher128.finalize128();
assert_eq!([0xbb007d2462e77f3c, 0x224508f916b3991f], res128);

// Generate 256bit hash
let key = Key([1, 2, 3, 4]);
let mut hasher256 = HighwayHasher::new(key);
let res256: [u64; 4] = hasher256.finalize256();
let expected: [u64; 4] = [
assert_eq!(expected, res256);

Use highway hash in standard rust collections

use std::collections::HashMap;
use highway::{HighwayBuildHasher, Key};
let mut map =

map.insert(1, 2);
assert_eq!(map.get(&1), Some(&2));

Or if utilizing a key is not important, one can use the default

use std::collections::HashMap;
use std::hash::BuildHasherDefault;
use highway::HighwayHasher;
let mut map =

map.insert(1, 2);
assert_eq!(map.get(&1), Some(&2));

Hashing a file, or anything implementing Read

use std::fs::File;
use std::hash::Hasher;
use highway::{PortableHash, HighwayHash};

let mut file = File::open("./README.md").unwrap();
let mut hasher = PortableHash::default();
std::io::copy(&mut file, &mut hasher).unwrap();
let hash64 = hasher.finish(); // core Hasher API
let hash256 = hasher.finalize256(); // HighwayHash API

Use Cases

HighwayHash can be used against untrusted user input where weak hashes can't be used due to exploitation, verified cryptographic hashes are too slow, and a strong hash function meets requirements. Some specific scenarios given by the authors of HighwayHash:

  • Use 64bit hashes to for authenticating short lived messages
  • Use 256bit hashes for checksums. Think file storage (S3) or any longer lived data where there is a need for strong guarantees against collisions.

Highwayhash may not be a good fit if the payloads trend small (< 100 bytes) and speed is up of the utmost importance, as Highwayhash hits its stride at larger payloads.

Crate Features

highway is no_std compatible when the default features are disabled. Be aware that the no_std version is unable to detect CPU features and so will always default to the portable implementation. If building for a known SSE 4.1 or AVX 2 machine (and the majority of machines in the last decade will support SSE 4.1), these hashers can still be constructed with force_new.


Benchmarks are ran with the following command:

cargo clean
RUSTFLAGS="-C target-cpu=native" cargo bench
find ./target -wholename "*/new/raw.csv" -print0 | xargs -0 xsv cat rows > assets/highway.csv

And can be analyzed with the R script found in the assets directory

Keep in mind, benchmarks will vary by machine. Newer machines typically handle AVX payloads better than older.

We'll first take a look at the throughput when calculating the 64bit hash of a varying payload with various implementations


HighwayHash is not meant to be fast for extremely short payloads, as we can see that it falls short of fnv and Farmhash. HighwayHash has a series of rounds executed when the hash value is finally computed that permutes internal state, and the computation occurs at any payload size. This overhead is where the vast majority of time is spent at shorter payloads. At larger payload sizes we see HighwayHash as one of the top leaders. Some may find HighwayHash more desirable than Farmhash due to HighwayHash offering itself as a strong hash function and having a 256bit output.

Now taking a look at calculating a 256 hash value, we see a similar story.


HighwayHash is slow and comparable to other functions, but HighwayHash shines at larger payloads.

What should be noted is that there is a performance difference between calculating the 64bit and 256bit HighwayHash due to the 256bit requiring more rounds of permutation. The graph below depicts these differences.


Up until 1024 bytes, calculating the 64bit hash is twice as fast when using SIMD instructions; however by 16KiB both implementations reach the same steady state across all implementations.

For those more into numbers and are curious about specifics or want more details about the hash functions at small payloads size, here is a table that breaks down (GB/s) at all payload sizes


Builder Benchmarks

Have fun running the builder benchmarks to see how performance differs with flags:

Default compilation

cargo bench -- highway-builder

Explicitly disable avx2

RUSTFLAGS="-C target-feature=-avx2" cargo bench -- highway-builder

Explicitly disable avx2 when targeting native cpu

RUSTFLAGS="-C target-cpu=native -C target-feature=+sse4.1,-avx2" \
  cargo bench -- highway-builder

No runtime deps