Feeds

Apple's Snow Leopard set to exploit GPU power

OpenCL 1.0 spec debuts

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

Apple's Snow Leopard bounded closer to reality today - and there's a strong possibility it leapt well past Windows 7 in the process.

Today, at SIGGRAPH Asia in Singapore, the Khronos Group, a self-described "member-funded industry consortium focused on the creation of open standard, royalty-free APIs to enable the authoring and accelerated playback of dynamic media on a wide variety of platforms and devices," released the OpenCL 1.0 specification, which the association describes as "the first open, royalty-free standard for cross-platform, parallel programming of modern processors found in personal computers, servers and handheld/embedded devices."

The release of OpenCL 1.0 is a giant step towards the long-sought goal of industry-wide GPGPU (general-purpose computation on GPUs), in which the massively parallel capabilities of GPUs (graphics-processing units) are brought to bear on general-purpose applications that would benefit from highly parallel processing. Not only would such current image-based tasks as media processing, video and sound editing, and image processing be able to tap into the resources of GPUs, but GPGPU might also enable as-yet-impossible operations such as real-time ray tracing, infallible voice recognition, and webcam-based lip reading.

The key word, of course, is "might." OpenCL does, however, have enough promise that both Nvidia and AMD also released statements today, with Nvidia announcing its "full support" and AMD saying that it plans to "rapidly adopt the OpenCL 1.0 programming standard and integrate a compliant compiler and runtime into the free ATI Stream SDK." Note also that OpenCL is a cross-platform specification, and not tied to one manufacturer's GPU, such as is Nvidia's CUDA.

What's more, the OpenCL standard has been "created and ratifed" by (take a deep breath) 3DLABS, Activision Blizzard, AMD, Apple, ARM, Barco, Broadcom, Codeplay, Electronic Arts, Ericsson, Freescale, HI, IBM, Intel Corporation, Imagination Technologies, Motorola, Nokia, NVIDIA, QNX, Samsung, TAKUMI, Texas Instruments, and others.

No matter how you slice it, that's a pretty impressive cast of characters.

Among all of those players, the most immediate beneficiary should be Apple, which provided the preliminary OpenCL specification six months ago. The company's planned upgrade/bug-fix to its current Leopard iteration of Mac OS X - cutely dubbed Snow Leopard and announced in June of this year - is scheduled to bring OpenCL to the masses when it is released next year. Some even say it will arrive as early as March. Apple's marketing materials claim that OpenCL "makes it possible for developers to efficiently tap the vast gigaflops of computing power currently locked up in the graphics processing unit (GPU). With GPUs approaching processing speeds of a trillion operations per second, they’re capable of considerably more than just drawing pictures. OpenCL takes that power and redirects it for general-purpose computing."

Marketing-speak, to be sure, but Apple's promise of zippy OpenCL computing in the 2009 timeframe sounds mighty good to us.

You'll notice, however, that one prominent name is missing from the "created and ratified" gang listed above: Microsoft. And as today's TG Daily astutely points out, "If [OpenCL] provides those dramatic speed improvements Apple promises and if it sparks the development of a wave of new applications, then Microsoft may have a much bigger problem at the end of next year than it has today. A cleaned up interface and touchscreen support [in Windows 7] may not cut it." ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.