AMD Adopts OpenCL 1.0 Specification

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News Posted: Wed, Dec 10 2008 1:24 PM

AMD and Mubadala Amend Transaction AgreementsAMD Adopts OpenCL 1.0 Specification Ratified by The Khronos Group, Reaffirms Commitment to Open Standards for CPU+GPU Compute

-- Company plans OpenCL-compliant SDK preview release in first half of 2009, giving developers a better, truly open choice for writing applications that can execute on CPUs and GPUs within a system for optimum performance and efficiency --


SIGGRAPH ASIA, SINGAPORE – AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced its intent to rapidly adopt the OpenCL 1.0 programming standard and integrate a compliant compiler and runtime into the free ATI Stream Software Development Kit (SDK).

OpenCL 1.0 was ratified today by the The Khronos Group, an independent standards body with company-members throughout the computing industry. The OpenCL programming standard and associated technologies are aimed at better enabling developers to write vender-neutral applications that can execute on either the CPU or GPU within a system. This allows developers to easily take advantage of whichever processor is best suited for the task at hand.

“The potential benefits of having applications run on both the CPU and GPU within a system are enormous,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “Unfortunately, up until now programmers could only choose proprietary programming languages that limited their ability to write vendor-neutral, cross-platform applications. With today’s ratification of OpenCL 1.0, I’m happy to say those days are over. Developers now have a better, truly open choice.”

AMD is a founding and contributing member of the OpenCL working group in The Khronos Group, and has consistently been one of the most vocal and active proponents of the standard. AMD is committed to getting this valuable new technology into the hands of programmers as quickly as possible, and is rapidly evolving its free ATI Stream SDK to make it happen. AMD is making good progress on its OpenCL-compliant offering and plans to release a developer version of the ATI Stream SDK with support for OpenCL 1.0 for content developers in the first half of 2009. Working from early specifications of OpenCL, AMD’s engineering team has already started running code on its initial implementation. 

AMD also continues to improve its Brook+ tools and plans to provide a transition path for those who want to port their Brook+ code to OpenCL. Brook+ is an open source, high-level programming framework provided by AMD as part of the free ATI Stream SDK.
Building on the significant enhancements of ATI Stream SDK 1.3, version 1.4 is being designed to add finer grain data type support, graphics API interoperability, multi-GPU support and thread-level data sharing to Brook+. It is also being enhanced to add improved support for the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics cards and to include support for several ATI FirePro 3D graphics accelerators. AMD expects to release version 1.4 of the ATI Stream SDK in the first quarter of 2009.

“Lack of standards has hamstrung the use of graphics processors to accelerate computing,” said Gordon Haff, Principal IT advisor, Illuminata. “I therefore view the ratification of the OpenCL specification as an important step toward pushing GPU-accelerated software beyond early adopters and into the hands of mainstream businesses and consumers around the world.”

Taking ATI Stream Mainstream
On November 13, AMD announced its plans to release the free download of ATI Catalyst driver update, version 8.12, which will instantly unlock new ATI Stream acceleration capabilities already built into millions of ATI Radeon graphics cards. The driver is available for download on or around December 10. AMD also plans to make available a free downloadable version of its ATI Avivo Video Converter utility, which allows users of many ATI Radeon HD graphics cards to immediately experience the benefit of ATI Stream technologies when transcoding video. Once released, both can be downloaded at http://ati.amd.com/support/driver.html.




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Jeremy replied on Wed, Dec 10 2008 3:18 PM

So, if I'm reading this correctly . . . these "vendor-neutral, cross-platform applications" will be written using ATI's Stream SDK and will only run on computers with ATI's Catalyst drivers V8.12 and higher?

Somebody tell me how this is vendor neutral if it has to be written using ATI's software and run on ATI's hardware. Did I miss something? Has nVidia also announced that it will build OpenCL support into its drivers?

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I think your reading it wrong Jeremy. What I get from it is that ATI is rewriting their drivers, Brook+, and Stream SDK to the OpenCL standard. If a second release (the part on the bottom), they are adding their professional GPGPU (Stream) to their upcoming release of Catalyst, as well as making their Video Converter a free download.

The first line actually makes it very clear if you go back and read it again. "AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced its intent to rapidly adopt the OpenCL 1.0 programming standard and integrate a compliant compiler and runtime into the free ATI Stream Software Development Kit (SDK)."

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Jeremy replied on Wed, Dec 10 2008 4:05 PM

Yea, but if you read between the lines it sounds as if ATI was very heavily involved in writing this "standard", and that they're only ones moving to adopt it.

"AMD is a founding and contributing member of the OpenCL working group in The Khronos Group, and has consistently been one of the most vocal and active proponents of the standard."

Basically, it's ATI's standard with the warm fuzziness of something labeled as "open source". I see no mention of any other GPU maker (nVidia, S3, Intel) being involved in its creation, making tools to write with it, or adding support for it to their drivers. That pretty much makes it ATI's standard, which is far from vendor neutral as claimed. Also notice that the press release is from ATI, not the Khronos group. The whole thing smacks of marketing hyperbole to me.

You can get any color you want, as long as the color you want is black.

It'll run on any system, as long as it uses Catalyst drivers.

Am I just being too cynical today? I'd love to see standards developed so my GPU could do more than pretty graphics, this just doesn't sound like it.

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Marco C replied on Wed, Dec 10 2008 7:47 PM

OpenCL is being jointly developed by a number of different companies--this is AMD's press release, hence no mention of other companies.  NVIDIA has also announced support for OpenCL...

http://hothardware.com/News/NVIDIA-Announved-Full-Support-For-OpenCL-10/

Apple holds the trademark.  More information is available here:

http://www.khronos.org/

 

Marco Chiappetta
Managing Editor @ HotHardware.com

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Jeremy replied on Thu, Dec 11 2008 10:20 AM

I guess I missed the nVidia press release! Hopefully this works as advertised. Video cards won't just be for gamers anymore, and it could turn out to be very interesting for the future of software and how computers are put together. If Apple holds the trademark, I wonder if iTunes will start to use the GPU for encoding of audio/video files in the near future. That alone would be very cool.

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