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New OpenCL 2.0 Specification Makes Cross-Platform Computing Easier

By Ed Silverstein November 20, 2013

The Khronos Group has released the OpenCL 2.0 specification – which makes it easier to undertake cross-platform computing.

Developers in particular expect the new standard will make graphics processing units (GPU) programming easier to achieve.

There is interest in the new standard, too, as it relates to NFV (Network Function Virtualization). For instance, upon its release, Zhenya Li, vice president of 2012 Lab, Huawei Technologies, said, “We expect the OpenCL standard to be widely adopted by the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, and to be a key software standard used in Network Function Virtualization (NFV) accelerators.”

It is seen also as an interface standard which “lets general-purpose software run on increasingly powerful graphics chips,” according to an earlier report from CNET.

It is both royalty-free and is an open standard which offers many benefits to users. “OpenCL now enables a significantly richer range of algorithms and programming patterns to be easily accelerated with improved performance,” the company said in a statement.

After a proposed specification was released in July, the final product included suggestions from developers. “Khronos received significant and thoughtful developer feedback from the provisional release of OpenCL 2.0, much of which has been adopted, or will be merged with emerging hardware capabilities as this state-of–the-art parallel programming platform continues to evolve,” Neil Trevett, chair of the OpenCL working group, who is also president of the Khronos Group and vice president of mobile content at NVIDIA, said in a statement. 

OpenCL, which is short for Open Computing Language, provides faster speed and responsiveness, the company said. It can be found in gaming, entertainment uses, the scientific sector and medical software, the company said in a statement.

Among the new features is shared virtual memory, which provides more programming flexibility and means data transfers between the host and devices won’t be as expensive. Another feature is called nested parallelism. It leads to fewer processor bottlenecks. There is also generic address space in the new standard. This means there is no longer a need for functions to be written for address space. Another feature relates to images. It includes sRGB images and 3D image writes, and improved OpenGL interop. Also, there are Android operating system client driver extensions.

The new standard will likely be seen in the mobile sector, as well as in other products. “The latest industry standard will expand adoption of the technology in mobile, home entertainment, and automotive products, creating the next wave of innovative compute use cases and consumer experiences,” Wei-Jin Dai, president and CEO of Vivante, said in a statement.

“We are very excited about the user benefits of OpenCL 2.0’s new features,” Simon McIntosh-Smith, head of the Microelectronics Research Group at the UK’s University of Bristol, added in a statement. “These latest evolutions in OpenCL will enable us to efficiently solve a much wider range of parallel processing problems than ever before, and across a growing range of embedded and HPC hardware platforms. The new shared virtual memory (SVM) feature will make it easier for programmers to develop heterogeneous parallel programs, while support for dynamic parallelism will enable more efficient solutions for a much wider range of applications.”

There is enthusiasm too about OpenCL 2.0 and the relationship with the HSA Foundation. HSA refers to Heterogeneous System Architecture. “The Khronos Group’s OpenCL 2.0 is the first key, foundational, programming language to truly support the core capabilities of HSA enabled hardware.  It is going to be exciting to see where developers take this much richer programming platform,” Gregory Stoner, managing director and vice president of the HSA Foundation, said in a statement.

Among the companies which are supporting the new standard are Adobe, AMD, Imagination Technologies and Vivante.

Edited by Ryan Sartor

NFVZone Contributor

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