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OpenCL Programming Guide

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OpenCL Programming Guide, 9780321749642 (0321749642), Addison Wesley, 2011

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 of computing.

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.

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