ARM exec counsels massively parallel patience
His chips may drive your car. Eventually
Fusion Summit Don't expect parallel-processing power to invigorate consumer devices for a few more years. But when it does, it may save your child's life – or at least protect you from a nasty lawsuit.
OpenCL, which enables a GPU to share processing chores with a CPU, will be slow to affect the consumer market, seeing as how OpenCL-capable SoCs (system-on-chip processors) are only starting to wend their way to the development labs of device manufacturers.
"The perils of the IP business world means that you produce some IP, you sell it to a certain partner, he makes a chip, he sells the chip to a partner, and yadda-yadda-yadda," ARM Fellow and vice president of technology Jem Davies explains. "It takes a couple of years."
Davies' call for patience came during a causal tête-à-tête with reporters at AMD's Fusion Developer Summit this week, after his keynote presentation expressing solidarity with AMD in the two companies' commitment to a massively parallel future.
Due to the IP business' time-consuming yadda-yadda-yadda, Davies explains, it's going to be a few more years before we see "properly" OpenCL-capable devices employing ARM-based chips.
"I think you know what I mean by 'proper'," Davies said, "compared to some of the sort of skimpy implemetations we see at the moment."
Although it will take a couple of years until those "proper" devices appear, Davies says, there's a good deal of prototyping now going on among embedded-device manufacturers and developers.
Image-processing applications, Davies contends, will be one of the first widespread implementations of OpenCL-on-ARM, due to to the fact that image-processing algorthms are "a fertile ground for parallelism."
Davies wasn't merely talking about red-eye reduction or facial-recognition in images taken by cheesy smartphone and tablet cameras. His sights are set higher – augmented reality is one "obvious case," he suggests.
Of more interest to Davies, however, is an application area with an even longer development cycle than consumer electronic devices: automotive management and control.
Among the image-processing applications that the automotive industry is looking at are white-line detection for "lane-departure detection", and the use of cameras to measure the distance between vehicles.
"Obviously, you can detect if you're about to run into the car in front of you with radar," he says, "but that's expensive. If you can just do it with a camera, that's cheaper."
He also notes that there's "quite interesting" work being done on detecting sudden, right-angle intrusions into a car's path, such as a kid running out into the street in front of your two tons of steel.
But such lifesavers – and other, more mundane smartphone and tablet apps – will take a while to appear. The tipping point that should inspire an explosion of OpenCL-based consumer app development, Davies says, will be – you guessed it – OpenCL-capable consumer devices.
"Once you put a billion devices a year in the hands of consumers and developers," he says, "suddenly people are going to start saying 'Ooo! I think I'm going to do this'."
Reluctantly reaching into his bag of clichés, Davies summed up: "Really, I hate to use this phrase, but build it and they will come." ®
ZiiLabs ZMS series chips have had OpenCL for ages now! How is that not proper?
Re: "doing it with a camera is cheaper"
Hmm, if you "barely saw" it in time you were probably going a shade too fast for the visibility conditions.
The other two cars you mention were obviously going waaay too fast for the conditions....
Doesn't matter how many gadgets you fit to a car, if the driver insists on driving like a twat it's still going to hit something eventually. The only solution there is to make the things fully autonomous.
While radar might be able to see through the fog, surely it would be far more sensible for a camera equipped car to automatically limit the speed to one at which it can still stop when it sees something? Remember here that other things happen on a road that a radar triggered emergency braking system won't deal with and the driver's eyes are at the same disadvantage as the camera......
Just worry about your own life
A lot of drivers have been murdered because they hit a child. In many cases the driver wasn't really to blame, and the child wasn't even killed, but that didn't save them.
@Only usefull in regimes where the kid is more valuable than the car
Yes, but think of the scratches a child might leave on the car. That's why some car drivers still try to avoid people.
However there is virtually no punishment for people who do kill other people while driving. Otto Wiesheu, famous German politician once killed a Jew while drunk driving. He got 12 months probation, plus a 20k DM fine.
"doing it with a camera is cheaper"
err, I think I prefer radar, cause it does a nice job piercing through dense fog...
One of those foggy mornings driving to my job a far away exhibition on the highway, I barely saw a darkish shadow on the side of the road (which turned out to be a truck that had stopped and pulled to the side to avoid smashing into the rear end of a mass car pile up)
Thanks to this alert truckdriver being visible earlier than the rest of that tangled mess, I too, managed to stop a few meters before slamming into it.
While thanking my good fortune, a nasty thought yanked me alert: what about the cars following on the road? I kicked my car in gear and made haste to drive over to the right side and then off the road entirely, into the frozen field...
Twice lucky, cause 2 more cars sped crashing into the rearmost wrecks.
I saw no ambulance or police, started driving alongside the road to find the nearest emergency callbox. The mess seemed as long as a football field, and the silence was eerie, while I contemplated if I should stay there to help or find a phone to call more help.
This was in the 80's and if vehicles had radar then, this probably wouldn't have happened...