What Is POD Data Type?


Heather Bennett

What Is POD Data Type?

A POD data type stands for Plain Old Data type. It is a term used in the C++ programming language to refer to simple data types that are not classes or structures with member functions or virtual functions. POD data types can be used efficiently in various low-level programming tasks and are often preferred for performance reasons.

Characteristics of POD Data Types

POD data types have the following characteristics:

  • Trivially Copyable: POD data types can be copied bit by bit using memcpy(). This means that you can copy the entire content of one POD object to another without invoking any special copy constructors or assignment operators.
  • C Layout: POD data types have a C-compatible layout in memory.

    This ensures that the layout of their members is simple and straightforward, with no padding or additional metadata.

  • No Virtual Functions: POD data types do not have any virtual functions defined within them. Virtual functions introduce vtables and vpointers, which add additional overhead.
  • No Non-POD Members: A POD data type cannot have non-POD members. If a class has even a single non-POD member, it will not be considered a POD type.

Usage of POD Data Types

Due to their simplicity and efficiency, POD data types are commonly used in various scenarios, such as:

  • Data Serialization: When serializing objects into binary or textual formats, using POD types can simplify the serialization process as they can be directly written or read from files.
  • Low-Level Memory Manipulation: POD data types are often used in low-level programming tasks where direct memory manipulation is required, such as network protocols, device drivers, and embedded systems.
  • Data Interchange: POD types can be used for exchanging data between different programming languages or systems. As they have a C-compatible layout, they can be easily marshaled or unmarshaled across language boundaries.

Example of a POD Data Type in C++

Here’s an example of a POD data type in C++:

struct Point
    int x;
    int y;

In this example, the Point structure has a C-compatible layout and does not contain any non-POD members. It can be efficiently copied using memcpy(), making it suitable for various low-level operations.


In summary, a POD data type is a simple and efficient data type in the C++ programming language. It has specific characteristics such as being trivially copyable, having a C-compatible layout, and not having any virtual functions or non-POD members. Understanding the concept of POD data types can help you optimize your code for performance-critical tasks and low-level programming scenarios.

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