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Industry Group to Establish OpenCL Standard

The Khronos Group, a member-funded consortium focused on establishing open standard application programming interfaces (APIs), has announced the formation of the "Compute Working Group" to focus on open standards for parallel computing across graphics processing units (GPUs) and CPUs. Apple, AMD (ATI) and Nvidia are amongst the initial members.

The group will specifically evaluate and establish Apple's proposed Open Computing Language (OpenCL) specification. OpenCL aims "to enable any application to tap into the vast gigaflops of GPU and CPU resources through an approachable C-based language." The press release gives us a broader overview of what OpenCL is trying to accomplish:

A widely available open-standard compute programming specification with high-performance, general computation support and robust numerics will complement existing solutions and further liberate GPU-based compute power from the realm of graphics-only applications and provide a multi-vendor, portable interface for coordinating all the many-core GPUs and multi-core CPUs within a system. Such capability will have broad applicability - including a central role in the Khronos API ecosystem by providing a powerful compute front-end to OpenGL and OpenGL ES, and a platform for accelerating tasks such as physics and image processing / recognition.

The Khronos Group is also responsible for OpenGL and OpenGL ES standards as well as many others.

At WWDC, Apple first announced its plans to introduce performance enhancing technologies into their next version of Mac OS X (Snow Leopard). The technologies included "Grand Central" and "OpenCL" which promise to improve computer performance by taking advantage of modern multi-core processors as well as the GPUs found on modern video cards.

According to the president of the Khronos group, this technology could be used in both desktop and handheld devices in the future.