Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Nvidia Releases OpenCL Driver

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 16 comments

Nvidia released its OpenCL driver and SDK to developers, the company's new "heterogeneous" computing environment that runs on the CUDA architecture.

For the uninitiated, OpenCL stands for Open Computing Language, and is defined as a framework for writing programs that execute across platforms of structural variations and multiple parts including CPUs, GPUs, and all other processors (heterogeneous). OpenCL is ideal because it can allow application to execute on an immeasurable number of PC configurations (cross platforming), possibly addressing the problems that many programs face today through various patches.

For example, OpenGL--via open industry standards--addresses multiple GPUs, and OpenAL addresses multiple audio processors; OpenCL works in the same way, but encompasses processors, GPUs, and more. Currently the non-profit technology "consortium" Khronos Group--consisting of id Software, Intel, Nvidia, Sun Microsystems, Creative Labs and more--manages OpenCL. Along with Nvidia, Intel, and AMD, Apple originally submitted the OpenCL proposal to Khronos back in the summer of 2008. By December 2008, Khronos approved the technical specifications and allowed the specs to be released to the public.

On Monday, Nvidia released its OpenCL driver and software development kit (SDK), however only through its OpenCL Early Access Program. Nvidia found it necessary for this early release in order to receive feedback from the EAP participants before the release of the beta (to all GPU Computing Registered Developers) within the next few months. According to the company, the OpenCL driver will run on the CUDA architecture, enabling the driver to take advantage of Nvidia's GPU parallel computing.

"At the core of Nvidia’s GPU Computing strategy is the massively parallel CUDA architecture that Nvidia pioneered and has been shipping since 2006," stated the company in a press release. "Accessible today through familiar industry standard programming environments such as C, Java, Fortran and Python, the CUDA architecture supports all manner of computational interfaces and, as such, is a perfect complement to OpenCL. Enabled on over 100 million Nvidia GPUs, the CUDA architecture is enabling developers to innovate with the GPU and unleash never before seen performance across a wide range of applications."

The company said it would be beta-testing OpenCL with developers throughout the year. However, to get an early sample, interested readers may want to check out this YouTube video of the OpenGL demonstration--running on Nvidia's Quadro FX 570M GPU--during a speech at Siggraph Asia 2008. While the clip would make an excellent screensaver (one viewer even made that comment), the demo shows the "flexibility" of OpenCL, allowing the end-user to change settings--including cluster scale and velocity damping--on the fly. Additionally, this YouTube video displays AMD's demonstration, displaying cool effects that turned a hand-drawn AMD logo into a colorful explosion of fireworks and energy rays.

Display 16 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , April 23, 2009 12:12 AM
    Hmm.. wow. I'm surprised nVidia is doing it even considering that CUDA has a better user base that's already experimenting with CUDA.
  • -4 Hide
    marokero , April 23, 2009 12:13 AM
    That's good news. I hope OpenCL is incorporated into Windows 7 so I can make my dual Xeons (it's a Mac Pro) and GTX 295 play even nicer together :) 
  • -1 Hide
    hairycat101 , April 23, 2009 3:25 AM
    marokeroThat's good news. I hope OpenCL is incorporated into Windows 7 so I can make my dual Xeons (it's a Mac Pro) and GTX 295 play even nicer together


    why the nice video card with no apps to run on it? No DX on macintrash. OpenGL sucks a monkey's naughty part and few games even use it. Unless... your running bootcamp so you can run windows. If that is the case, then there is something terribly wrong with a person paying a huge apple tax to run a PC.
  • 0 Hide
    cruiseoveride , April 23, 2009 4:08 AM
    Nvidia is always great with software
  • 1 Hide
    marokero , April 23, 2009 4:41 AM
    I'm always amazed by the anti-mac sentiment around here. I got the Mac Pro for working with Photo Mechanic, Aperture and Photoshop. There are a number of things in OS X that facilitate the use of those programs compared to the Windows versions, but accordingly, there are a number of things from Windows I wish OS X had (most notably greater GPU support). I put Vista 64 and the 295 so I can play COD4 and Grid when not working, and to vent steam from work related stress - what's so wrong about that? People apparently just can't get along here.

    But back to the topic, OpenCL/CUDA could help speed up chores like the batch processing of raw files I do. Instead of 3-5 hours waiting for my dual core CPU to finish the job, the additional GPU power could shorten that time considerably. I have a 3870 in another computer that is doing nothing but display duty. I would love to put that to raw file processing duty.
  • 5 Hide
    shovel , April 23, 2009 4:55 AM
    It's good to see this. Now both major GPU players have Open CL there's no excuse for it not to be adopted by developers. Now we need the same for Physics.
  • 1 Hide
    jludvig , April 23, 2009 7:07 AM
    @shovel:

    OpenCL can already run physics simulations. Source: http://www.pcper.com/comments.php?nid=6954
  • 3 Hide
    ideas , April 23, 2009 9:41 AM
    I hope there will be some developers taking advantage of this new parallel computing and implement a decent UPnP AV Media Server with transcoding.
  • 1 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , April 23, 2009 9:56 AM
    nkaraschWhy would you even say its a Mac Pro, you could just say computer. Oh wait you don't even have to say its a computer because we know. You wasted all that effort just to show you wasted your money for the apple logo and their girly OS.


    I love these kind of uninformed posts. So helpful. Never mind the fact that an 8 core Nehalem based Mac Pro is currently cheaper than a similarly specced Dell workstation. Most (maybe even all) Mac Pros have been a fair bit cheaper than their Dell contemporaries, at least in the first few months after release.

    Of course, since I'm defending Apple and I'm pointing out a case where the 'Apple Tax' doesn't exist, I clearly have to be a 'mactard'. My 'macintrash' must be completely useless to me since 'few games even use it', which is obviously the main reason for a young professional to purchase a computer... games. Yeah. Never mind the thousands of hours of work I do with it.
  • 0 Hide
    reklatsa , April 23, 2009 1:22 PM
    Girly, nkarasch?

    Oh, I see. Well MS seems to be applying tons of slap to its OS of late in a desperate attempt to catch up with Apple. Or maybe they're trying to outshine the Linux's (most of which look like a bunch of tragically dressed trannies hanging about in a seedy red-light district).

    Still, Mac must be the real thing in your eyes: No silicone implants, slovenly posture or hair extensions there.

    Now, when you have passed puberty come back to Uncle Tom and make some mature comments.
  • -1 Hide
    the_one111 , April 23, 2009 3:47 PM
    I, for one, can't stand OSX I had it once and it was so screwed up I couldn't even login, I had to go into the friggin login script and start putting lines of code in JUST TO LOG IN.

    I just really can't see why people think it even compares to windows, or any type of linux (ubuntu gnome etc..)
  • 0 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , April 23, 2009 3:47 PM
    I'm certainly curious as to how easy OpenCL is to program with. The prospect of recoding my N-body simulations from Fortran or C into OpenCL is really quite daunting but the potential benefits would be astounding. My stuff doesn't use much memory anyway - it just needs fast memory. Hell, I'd probably see a significant speed boost just running it on DDR5 memory without using any multithreading even!
  • 2 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , April 23, 2009 3:53 PM
    The_One111I, for one, can't stand OSX I had it once and it was so screwed up I couldn't even login, I had to go into the friggin login script and start putting lines of code in JUST TO LOG IN.I just really can't see why people think it even compares to windows, or any type of linux (ubuntu gnome etc..)


    That sounds mighty odd. Was it a hackintosh version you were running or didn't you know the password? I've never heard of that before.
  • 0 Hide
    bounty , April 23, 2009 4:44 PM
    I don't see the full comment by nkarasch at all. Did you borrow that from another article or did it dissappear. I can unhide marokero's comment just fine?
  • 2 Hide
    solymnar , April 23, 2009 4:50 PM
    The real kicker of this...

    If OpenCL really...I mean...REALLY takes off and gets regularly utilized by devs...

    Suddenly the value of a notebook/netbook with a "relatively" strong onboard gpu will surge.

    Will be interesting to see if/where bottlenecks shift around as this technology develops further.
  • 0 Hide
    mamapajama97 , August 20, 2009 10:36 PM
    I am very anxious to see how OpenCL works out. I do a lot of video encoding and would love to be able to speed up that process without degrading the quality of the encoded video.