Friday, December 12, 2008

And So It Begins - Vector Processing Standards Battle!

I'm not sure why I'm such a fan of this topic... maybe just because I enjoy watching the inevitable march towards entirely new CPU architectures.

Nvidia just released something that's been on Apple's wishlist for a while: OpenCL 1.0. Finally a "standard", royalty-free specification for developing applications to leverage vector processing units currently available on GPUs. While the processors on such high-end video cards aren't geared towards general computing per se, they absolutely blaze through certain workloads - especially those that work through sequential processing pipelines.

Microsoft's competing specification for some reason is available for DirectX 11 only, which makes absolutely no blimmin' sense to me. This basically means that your specification is limited to Vista... which rather defeats the concept behind a "standard." Not only do you get vendor lock-in, you get implementation lock-in. Sweet.

Can you imagine what this might do for Nvidia tho? Picture it now: tons of cheap commodity motherboards laid end-to-end, each with six PCI-E slots filled to the brim with Nvidia cards and running OpenCL apps on a stripped-down Linux distro. Supercomputing clusters for cheap.

Although I imagine the electricity bill might suffer.

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