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Tim Sweeney: GPGPU Too Costly to Develop

Epic Games' chief executive officer Tim Sweeney recently spoke during the keynote presentation of the High Performance Graphics 2009 conference, saying that it is "dramatically" more expensive for developers to create software that relies on GPGPU (general purpose computing on graphics processing units) than those programs created for CPUs.

He thus provides an example, saying that it costs "X" amount of money to develop an efficient single-threaded algorithm for CPUs. To develop a multithreaded version, it will cost double the amount; three times the amount to develop for the Cell/PlayStation 3, and a whopping ten times the amount for a current GPGPU version. He said that developing anything over 2X is simply "uneconomic" for most software companies. To harness today's technology, companies must lengthen development time and dump more money into the project, two factors that no company can currently afford.

But according to X-bit Labs, Sweeney spent most of his speech preaching about the death of GPUs (graphics processing units) in general, or at least in a sense as we know them today. This isn't the first time he predicted the technology's demise: he offered his predictions of doom last year in this interview. Basically, the days of DirectX and OpenGL are coming to a close.

“In the next generation we’ll write 100-percent of our rendering code in a real programming language--not DirectX, not OpenGL, but a language like C++ or CUDA," he said last year. "A real programming language unconstrained by weird API restrictions. Whether that runs on Nvidia hardware, Intel hardware or ATI hardware is really an independent question. You could potentially run it on any hardware that's capable of running general-purpose code efficiently."