OpenCL adapts for control-freak programming

Version 1.2 of the interface standard for letting general programs use graphics chip power lets programmers govern the resources available to a task.

OpenCL offers a wealth of mechanisms to for programmers to interface with graphics hardware.
OpenCL offers a wealth of mechanisms to for programmers to interface with graphics hardware. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

The Khronos Group announced version 1.2 of OpenCL today, an update that gives programmers tighter control over how they run software on graphics chips.

OpenCL is a standard interface that makes it easier for programmers to tap into the "GPGPU" idea--general-purpose graphical processing unit, which runs software such as game physics engines on a computing device's graphics hardware rather than on its central processing unit (CPU). With OpenCL, or with another technology such as Microsoft's rival DirectCompute, a programmer can use a GPGPU approach without having to worry about the particulars of individual graphics chips.

Among the features in OpenCL 1.2:

• Device partitioning lets programmers confine applications or tasks to parts of the graphics chip. That tighter control makes it easier to reserve part of it for high-priority tasks, for example.

• Better sharing of some information between OpenCL and Microsoft DirectX 9 and 11 hardware acceleration technology for situations when both programming interfaces are needed.

• Better mechanisms to let OpenCL software tap into custom hardware abilities such as video encoding or decoding or digital signal processing.

A look at the OpenCL reference guide.
A look at the OpenCL reference guide. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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