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Apple open sources Snow Leopard's multicore code helper

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In a surprise move, Apple has open-sourced its Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) technology under the Apache 2.0 public license.

Baked into the recently released Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, GCD eases the programming challenges that developers face when coding for multicore processors. You can download a PDF of Apple's half-marketing, half-technical description of it here.

As explained by Mac OS Forge, GCD is based on libdispatch. Before it can be widely implemented, however, C compiler support for its underlying blocks structure will be necessary.

Blocks support is not found in the majority of C compilers, and surely, Apple hopes that open-sourcing GCD will add some momentum to blocks adoption. As Drew McCormack over at MacResearch opines: "By offering Grand Central to the broader programming community, [Apple] may be hoping it will catch on, and make the argument for incorporating blocks in the C standard that much stronger."

Open-sourcing GCD could be a boon both to Apple and to the larger *nix community. Mac OS X, of course, is based on open source Mach and BSD. If Apple can entice Unix and Linux developers and compiler creators to embrace GCD, it will strengthen both GCD's developer base and enhance its chances of becoming a wide-ranging standard, incorporated into other *nix systems. And, of course, further distinguish Mac OS X - and, for that matter, Linux in all its flavors - from operating systems emanating from Redmond. ®

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