Industry pundits love drama. New products don’t build on the status quo
to make things better. They “revolutionize” or, better yet, define a “new
paradigm.” And, of course, given the way technology evolves, the results
rarely are as dramatic as the pundits make it seem.
Over the past decade, however, something revolutionary has happened.
The drama is real. CPUs with multiple cores have made parallel hardware
ubiquitous. GPUs are no longer just specialized graphics processors; they
are heavyweight compute engines. And their combination, the so-called
heterogeneous platform, truly is redefining the standard building blocks
We appear to be midway through a revolution in computing on a par with
that seen with the birth of the PC. Or more precisely, we have the potential
for a revolution because the high levels of parallelism provided by heterogeneous
hardware are meaningless without parallel software; and the fact
of the matter is that outside of specific niches, parallel software is rare.
To create a parallel software revolution that keeps pace with the ongoing
(parallel) heterogeneous computing revolution, we need a parallel software
industry. That industry, however, can flourish only if software can
move between platforms, both cross-vendor and cross-generational. The
solution is an industry standard for heterogeneous computing.
OpenCL is that industry standard. Created within the Khronos Group
(known for OpenGL and other standards), OpenCL emerged from a collaboration
among software vendors, computer system designers (including
designers of mobile platforms), and microprocessor (embedded, accelerator,
CPU, and GPU) manufacturers. It is an answer to the question “How
can a person program a heterogeneous platform with the confidence that
software created today will be relevant tomorrow?”
Born in 2008, OpenCL is now available from multiple sources on a wide
range of platforms. It is evolving steadily to remain aligned with the latest
microprocessor developments. In this book we focus on OpenCL 1.1. We
describe the full scope of the standard with copious examples to explain
how OpenCL is used in practice. Join us. Vive la révolution.