Tag Archives: ARM

arm_mali_cover_151112297646_640x360On the 20th of April 2013 there was an interesting discussion between Jan Gray and David Kanter. Jan is a specialist in C++ and FPGAs (twitter, homepage). David is a specialist in CPU and GPU architectures (twitterhomepage). Both know their ways well in the field of semiconductors. It is always a joy to follow their short discussions when they happen, but there was something about this one that made me want to share it with special attention.

OpenCL on ARM: Growth-expectation of GFLOPS/Watt of mobile GPUs exceeds Moore’s law. That’s incredible!

Jan Gray: .@OpenCLonARM GFLOPS/W more a factor of almost-over Dennard Scaling. But plenty of waste still to quash. http://www.fpgacpu.org/papers/Gray_AutumnOfMooresLaw_SingularityUniversity_11-06-23.pdf

Jan Gray‏: .@openclonarm Scratch Dennard tweet: reduced capacitance of yet smaller devices shd improve GFLOPS/W even as we approach end of Vdd scaling.

David Kanter: @jangray @OpenCLonARM I think some companies would argue Vdd scaling isn’t dead…

Jan Gray: @TheKanter @openclonarm it’s not dead, but slowing, we’ve gone from 5V to 1V (25x power savings) and have maybe several hundred mVs to go.

David Kanter: @jangray I reckon we have at least 400mV, so ~2X; slower than ideal, but still significant

Jan Gray: @TheKanter We agree, I think.

David Kanter: @jangray I suspect that if GPU scaling > Moore’s Law then they are just spending more area or power; like discrete GPUs in the last decade

David Kanter: @jangray also, most positive comment I’ve heard from industry folks on mobile GPU software and drivers is “catastrophically terrible”

Jan Gray: @TheKanter Many ways to reduce power, soup to nuts. For ex HMC DRAM on interposer for lower energy signaling. I’m sure many tricks to come.

In a nutshell, all the reasons they think mobile GPUs can outpace Moore’s law while staying under a certain power-usage.

It needs some background-info, so let’s start the background of the first tweet, and then explain what has been said. Read more …

Scene from Gladiator when is decided on the end of somebody’s life.

Look at the computers and laptops sold at your local computer shop. There are just few systems with a separate GPU, neither as PCI-device nor integrated on the motherboard. The graphics are handled by the CPU now. The Central Processing Unit as we knew it is dying.

To be clear I will refer to an old CPU as “GPU-less CPU”, and name the new CPU (with GPU included) as plain “CPU” or ”hybrid Processor”. There are many names for the new CPU with all their own history, which I will discuss in this article.

The focus is on X86. The follow-up article is on whether the king X86 will be replaced by king ARM.

Know that all is based on my own observations; please comment if you have nice information.

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Now that smartphones get more powerful and internet makes it possible to have all functionality and documents with you anywhere, the computer needs to be reinvented. You see all big IT-companies searching for how that can be, from Windows Metro to complete docking stations to replace the desktop by your phone. A turbulent market.

One of the new products are USB-stick sized computers. Stick them into a TV or monitor, zap in your code and you have your personal working environment. You never need to carry laptops to your hotel-room or conference, as long as a screen is available – any screen.

There are several USB-computers entering the market, but I wanted to introduce you to two. Both of these see a future in a strong processor in a portable device, and both do not have a real product with these strong processors. But you can expect that in 2013 you can have a device that can do very fast parallel processing to have a smooth Photoshop experience… at your key-ring.

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 With the launch of twitter-channel @OpenCLonARM we now officially show a strong interest in ARM for compute. And we are not the only ones, as the twitter already has 80 followers (60 in 1.5 day and 12 retweets of the welcome-message).

ARM has made tremendous progress in both technology and market-share. With ARM-64, companies like NVidia (and maybe AMD) in the field, X86 seems to be getting a real competitor. This could happen because since a few years computers are fast enough and are not being replaced by a faster one, but a smaller one (tablet, phone) or extra one. By the rules of the market, current technologies are replaced by the ones that give those other needs. ARM is fast (enough), flexible in design, very cheap, low-power and passively cooled. The biggest obstacle seems to be only getting a standard for a docking-station to connect your mobile, tablet or watch to keyboard, mouse and large screen.

OpenCL is perfect for ARM, as it gives the computation-power to the intensive computations not already covered by hardware-support. In the world of X86 this interests high performance and big data companies, where on ARM this interests also more. Without the need for OpenCL you can already watch HD video, with OpenCL you can encode the video with MP4. This year you will certainly hear more about new possibilities of OpenCL on ARM.

What do you think. Why does Intel not sell IP to ARM-companies as many technologies could be reused? Could Intel be the next ARM as an IP-seller, or will they stay the defender of X86 for many years to come?

StreamComputing.eu is not affiliated with ARM.

ZiiLabs has been offering an early access program for OpenCL SDK since last year. This program was very selective in choosing developers and little news has been put on their webpage. Now they are planning to make their Android NDK a standard component, it’s a good time to ask them some questions. GPGPU-consultant Liad Weinberger of Appilo also added a few questions.

The Q&A has been with Tim Lewis, director Marketing and Partner Relations of ZiiLabs, who has taken the time to give some insights in what we can expect around accelerated computations on Android. ZiiLabs has been better known as 3DLabs and has reinvented itself in 2009 (you can read the full history here). Like other companies in the ARM-industry they mostly design chips and let other parties manufacture devices using their schematics, drivers and software. Now to the questions.

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There was some guy at Microsoft who understood IT very well while being a businessman: “Developers, developers, developers, developers!”. You saw it again in the mobile market and now with OpenCL. Normally I watch his yearly speech to see which product they have brought to their own ecosphere, but the developers-speech is one to watch over and over because he is so right about this! (I don’t recommend the house-remixes, because those stick in your head for weeks.)

Since OpenCL needs to be optimised for each platform, it is important for the companies that developers start developing for their platform first. StreamComputer is developing a few different Eclipse-plugins for OpenCL-development, so we were curious what was already there. Why not share all findings with you? I will keep this article updated – know this article does not cover which features are supported by each SDK.

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