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The Khronos Group on Tuesday said that it had ratified and released to public the OpenCL 1.0 specification, the first open, royalty-free standard for cross-platform, parallel programming of modern processors found in personal computers, servers and handheld/embedded devices. The creators of the standard hope that it will enable new performance heights and additional features on the wide range of new devices utilizing multi-core processors.

“The opportunity to effectively unlock the capabilities of new generations of programmable compute and graphics processors drove the unprecedented level of cooperation to refine the initial proposal from Apple into the ratified OpenCL 1.0 specification. As an open, cross-platform standard, OpenCL is a fundamental technology for next generation software development that will play a central role in the Khronos API ecosystem and we look forward to seeing implementations within the next year,” said Neil Trevett, chair of the OpenCL working group, president of the Khronos Group and vice president at Nvidia.

OpenCL enables software developers to take full advantage of a diverse mix of multi-core central processing units (GPUs), graphics processing units (GPUs), Cell-type architectures and other parallel processors such as digital signal processors (DSPs). OpenCL consists of an API for coordinating parallel computation and a programming language for specifying those computations. Specifically, the OpenCL standard defines:

·  A subset of the C99 programming language with extensions for parallelism;

·  An API for coordinating data and task-based parallel computation across a wide range of heterogeneous processors;

·  Numerical requirements based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' IEEE 754 standard;

·  Efficient interoperability with OpenGL, OpenGL ES and other graphics APIs.

OpenCL (Open Computing Language) promises to improve speed and responsiveness for a wide spectrum of applications in numerous market categories from gaming and entertainment to scientific and medical software. The widely supported OpenCL standard may give a real boost to GPGPU (general purpose computing on GPUs) as software will be able to take advantage of both CPUs and GPUs and developers will not have to tailor each program for a particular hardware implementation, which greatly eases development.

“AMD believes that broad adoption of industry standards by hardware and software vendors is essential to successfully harnessing the power of stream computing in a wide array of mainstream applications. AMD […] is an aggressive proponent of the OpenCL standard. Now that OpenCL 1.0 is ratified, AMD plans to evolve its ATI Stream Software Development Kit to comply with the new specification to give developers, businesses and consumers maximum choice and flexibility in leveraging the computational capabilities of our graphics processors,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of ATI, graphics products group of Advanced Micro Dev icesAMD.

Proposed six months ago as a draft specification by Apple, OpenCL has been developed and ratified by industry-leading companies including 3Dlabs, Activision Blizzard, AMD, Apple, ARM, Barco, Broadcom, Codeplay, Electronic Arts, Ericsson, Freescale, HI, IBM, Intel Corporation, Imagination Technologies, Kestrel Institute, Motorola, Movidia, Nokia, Nvidia, QNX, RapidMind, Samsung, Seaweed, Takumi, Texas Instruments and Umeå University.

“We are excited about the industry-wide support for OpenCL. Apple developed OpenCL so that any application in Snow Leopard, the next major version of Mac OS X, can harness an amazing amount of computing power previously available only to graphics applications,” said Bertrand Serlet, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering.

Tags: GPGPU, , Intel, AMD, ATI, Nvidia, Khronos, OpenCL

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