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ATI Stream upgrade embraces OpenCL

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The ATI Stream software development kit was bumped up to version 2.1 on Monday, receiving a hefty dose of OpenCL capabilities in the run-up to AMD's Fusion series of "accelerated processing units" (APUs) scheduled to appear next year.

Not that devs using the new ATI Stream SDK 2.1 will have to wait until then to take advantage of OpenCL. That technology - which shares parallelized computing chores between the CPU and the GPU - is already being embraced by a number of industry players, spearheaded by standards-definition work being done by the Kronos Group.

ATI competitor Nvidia, for one, has its own OpenCL efforts underway. Apple slipped OpenCL (pdf) into Mac OS X 10.6 (aka Snow Leopard) when it released that operating system last August.

OpenCL enables what's acronymicized as GPGPU, or general-purpose computing on graphic processing units. Microsoft has its own GPGPU competitor to OpenCL, a DirectX API set called DirectCompute (video).

But the industry does seem to be rallying around OpenCL - the Kronos Group lists 34 participants in its OpenCL efforts. In addition to Apple, which originally submitted OpenCL to the Kronos Group for standardization in 2008, participants include such heavyweights as ARM, IBM, Intel, Samsung, and Toshiba.

The OpenCL enhancements to the ATI Stream SDK announced Monday include support for OpenCL/OpenGL interoperability, improved code granularity and efficiency, support for OpenCL images and media operations, the ability to send multiple OpenCL tasks to the same target device simultaneously, improved analytics and more.

AMD also announced the opening of its OpenCL Zone developer-support website. A five-video technical overview of OpenCL is also available.

Michael Chu, product manager for ATI Stream computing, began a Monday blog post with the popping of virtual champagne. "One of the proudest moments in a software product manager's life is when a new version of the team's product is released."

Chu also pointed toward AMD's Fusion processors. "Looking forward to the planned introduction of the AMD Fusion family of APUs in 2011, the role of OpenCL in programming these devices is going to be essential," he said. "OpenCL certainly fits the bill for not only current discrete systems, but for APUs as well." ®

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