OpenCL Specification Completed in Record Time for Snow Leopard

Macworld reports from the SuperComputing 08 conference which is taking place in Austin, Texas this week. The Khronos group was present to celebrate the launch of the upcoming OpenCL specification which Apple is planning to implement in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. OpenCL is a new programming interface (API) to allow developers to take advantage of parallel computing across graphics processing units (GPUs) and multi-core CPUs.

While few details were revealed, Khronos' president Neil Trevett explained how quickly the OpenCL specification had come together.

"If you go to some other larger standards bodies, it's quite normal for a standard to take five years or more," Trevett said. "That's quite commonplace. You actually have to really push to get it down to eighteen months. Our record was 12 months, up to now; we've done this one in six [OpenCL]."

The speed at which they completed the specification was due to Apple's tight schedule to allow it to ship with Snow Leopard. The specification is now being reviewed by lawyers for the next 30 days to make sure no intellectual property has been breached. The specification will presumably be complete once it passes this 30 day inspection.

Trevett was very optimistic about the prospects of OpenCL specifically implemented in Snow Leopard:

"If Apple ends up following through on the plans they stated on building this specification into Snow Leopard, I think you could see opportunity for imaging applications vendors, video application vendors to tap into the goodness of GPU hardware," Trevett said. "Everyone has a supercomputer locked away in their Mac, but it's hard to get at it. And OpenCL will unlock the potential of that supercomputer."

He also acknowledged that OpenCL would work from the cell phones to high end computers, leaving open the possibility that we could see OpenCL implemented in future iPhones.

Apple's Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) is expected to ship in 2009 with recent hints suggesting the first quarter of 2009.

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