For example, the port misc/vxl r526931 fails on i386 because cmake can't find SSE2 enabled in the base compiler:
but it normally succeeds on amd64 because SSE2 is enabled in the base compiler.
The defaults for SSE2 being enabled should be the same on both i386 and amd64 because the SSE status doesn't depend on the mode being 32-bit or 540-bit.
This is correct. SSE2 is a core instruction set feature on amd64, but is optional on ia32.
Try to set CPUTYPE in /etc/make.conf.
(In reply to VVD from comment #3)
I asked this to troubleshoot port failures. Setting CPUTYPE in /etc/make.conf wouldn't be appropriate in this context, but thank you anyway. -)