OpenACC Standard to Help Developers to Take Advantage of GPU Compute Accelerators

Cray, CAPS, Nvidia, PGI Unveil OpenACC Programming Standard for Parallel Computing

by Anton Shilov
11/16/2011 | 11:47 PM

In an effort to make it easier for programmers to take advantage of parallel computing, Nvidia, Cray, the Portland Group (PGI), and CAPS enterprise have announced a new parallel-programming standard, known as OpenACC.

 

OpenACC allows parallel programmers to provide simple hints, known as "directives", to the compiler, identifying which areas of code to accelerate, without requiring programmers to modify or adapt the underlying code itself. By exposing parallelism to the compiler, directives allow the compiler to do the detailed work of mapping the computation onto the accelerator. Directives provide a common code base that is multi-platform and multi-vendor compatible, offering a way to preserve investment in legacy applications by enabling an easy migration path to accelerated computing.

Existing compilers from Cray, PGI and CAPS are expected to provide initial support for the OpenACC standard beginning in the first quarter of 2012. The OpenACC standard is fully compatible and interoperable with the Nvidia parallel programming architecture.

Initially developed by PGI, Cray, and Nvidia, with support from CAPS, OpenACC is a new open parallel programming standard designed to enable the millions of scientific and technical programmers to easily take advantage of the transformative power of heterogeneous CPU/GPU computing systems.

"I am enthusiastic about the future of accelerator technologies. The OpenACC announcement highlights the technically impressive initiative undertaken by members of the OpenMP working group on accelerators. I look forward to working with all four companies within the OpenMP organization to merge OpenACC with other ideas to create a common specification which extends OpenMP to support accelerators. We look forward to incorporating accelerator support with the full support of all OpenMP members in a future version of the OpenMP specification," said Michael Wong, CEO of the OpenMP architecture review board.

OpenACC is anticipated to benefit a broad range of programmers working in chemistry, biology, physics, data analytics, weather and climate, intelligence, and many other fields.

"Compiler directives are integral as we continue the build-out and deployment of the Titan GPU-accelerated supercomputer. Our ultimate goal is to have all Titan supercomputing code run on hybrid CPU/GPU nodes, and OpenACC will enable programmers to develop portable applications that maximize the performance and power efficiency benefits of this architecture," said Buddy Bland, Titan project director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, referring to a system expected to be the world's fastest supercomputer.