Thursday, June 12, 2008

One More Thing: Apple to Tackle Parallel Computing

Image:Steve Jobs.jpg Apple in Parallel: Turning the PC World Upside Down? - Technology - New York Times Blog quotes Steve Jobs in a discussion of harnessing multi-core computing:
Apple, he asserted, has made a parallel-programming breakthrough.

It is all about the software, he said. Apple purchased a chip company, PA Semi, in April, but the heart of Snow Leopard will be about a parallel-programming technology that the company has code-named Grand Central.

“PA Semi is going to do system-on-chips for iPhones and iPods,” he said.

Grand Central will be at the heart of Snow Leopard, he said, and the shift in technology direction raises lots of fascinating questions, including what will happen to Apple’s partnership with Intel.

Snow Leopard will also tap the computing power inherent in the graphics processors that are now used in tandem with microprocessors in almost all personal and mobile computers. Mr. Jobs described a new processing standard that Apple is proposing called OpenCL (Open Compute LibraryComputing Language) which is intended to refocus graphics processors on standard computing functions.

“Basically it lets you use graphics processors to do computation,” he said. “It’s way beyond what Nvidia or anyone else has, and it’s really simple.”

Since Intel trails both Nvidia and A.M.D.’s ATI graphics processor division, it may mean that future Apple computers will look very different in terms of hardware.

Will OpenCL be an alternative to NVIDIA's Cuda software interface? Read the comments in the NY Times blog for some good technical analysis and the usual passion that surrounds any Apple pronouncement.

Update: see a thoughtful perspective in Chris Edward's blog.

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