Future iPhones to wield OpenCL acceleration

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Imagination Technologies has posted a series of job openings for OpenCL engineers, indicating that the open, general purpose GPU parallelism technology Apple spearheaded for use in Mac OS X Snow Leopard is destined to also play a significant role in boosting embedded graphics and video acceleration on the company's future handheld products.



Imagination's job postings include an OpenCL Compiler Senior Design Engineer, OpenCL Driver Design Engineer, and OpenCL Compiler Design Engineer. Each requests experience with "embedded real-time operating systems" as well as kernel and assembly language development skills, and indicate a focus on "software for current and next generation graphics hardware."



PowerVR and OpenCL



Imagination is the developer behind PowerVR mobile graphics and video processor cores, which are broadly used in millions of mobile phones and other devices from media players to TV set top boxes to car navigation systems. PowerVR graphics cores are also installed in everything from Apple's iPhone and iPod touch to Nokia's N95 and Internet Tablets, as well as other higher-end mobile phones from makers such as Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Palm.



There are some mobile devices that don't use PowerVR cores; Sony uses a proprietary graphics processor in its PlayStation Portable (although the upcoming PSP2 is rumored to use a PowerVR design), while both the Nintendo DS and the Microsoft Zune lack a GPU core, simply relying on software graphics running on their main ARM CPU. Dedicated PowerVR cores built into an ARM or Intel Atom SoC or "System on a Chip" will not only provide improved graphics power for gaming, but also enable support for higher quality video acceleration.



Additionally, while PowerVR cores include support for Microsoft's proprietary DirectX graphics APIs, nearly all mobile devices have now standardized around OpenGL. Apple's strength in the iPod segment and its strong start with the iPhone are both helping build critical mass around OpenGL in the mobile development space. That will also lend support to the related OpenCL API as a general purpose computing environment on mobile devices, a potential that has until now largely remained only a matter of speculation.



OpenCL poised to go mobile



Imagination's interest in hiring OpenCL developers means the GPGPU (General-Purpose computation on GPUs) technology is already immediately relevant to mobile developers, as the company's PowerVR GPUs are currently used only in mobile devices, and the job postings make it clear that the OpenCL positions are related to embedded, mobile graphics. While the company has expressed interest in entering the laptop PC market, it faces foreboding, entrenched competition from GPU giants NVIDA and AMD's ATI.



NVIDIA and AMD have already jumped on the OpenCL bandwagon to support the open new API in conventional desktop PC GPGPU computing, but Imagination's active interest in hiring OpenCL engineers means that the GPGPU technology has a broader application range than many industry observers have suspected. The potential for OpenCL's parallel computing in mobile devices includes greater power efficiency and improvements in raw computing power across multiple cores rather than a reliance on a primary, hotter running, higher speed CPU.



Apple and Imagination



Apple recently stepped up to buy 8 million shares of the graphics technology company, and was revealed in an accompanying press release to be a licensee of Imagination's technology. That news was first revealed by AppleInsider as all but official months ago.



While Apple's relationship with Imagination was long shrouded in secrecy, the Mac maker had publicly revealed its plans to design custom chips for its iPod and iPhone lines via its acquisition of PA Semi, a fabless processor design firm. Imagination's PowerVR cores are the industry standard for mobile graphics, so there's no real surprise that Apple would license the technology for use in its upcoming SoC designs.



However, Imagination's push to hire OpenCL developers indicates something new: rather than simply adding standard graphics cores to standard ARM CPUs to create conventional SoC devices like those already used across the board in today's mobile phones, Apple clearly intends to rapidly accelerate the processing capabilities of its upcoming mobile devices using the same GPGPU parallel processing technology that it will bring to conventional desktop and laptop computers with Snow Leopard.



OpenCL's strategic wins for Apple



While Apple presented OpenCL to the Khronos Group to maintain as an open, royalty free industry standard, the company will continue to enjoy a first mover advantage in implementing OpenCL within Snow Leopard next year, as well as a lead in OpenCL mobile hardware as it begins production of its custom designed SoCs with new and perhaps multiple PowerVR graphics and video processing cores.



Apple's mobile OS used on the iPod touch and iPhone is also based directly upon its desktop Mac OS X kernel, operating system, and development environment, an advantage in software portability that is not similarly shared by its competitors, including Microsoft's Windows Vista and Windows Mobile, or by Nokia's Symbian, Nokia OS, and Linux products. Google's new Android mobile OS similarly shares less in common with desktop Linux platforms.



Additionally, OpenCL's similarities to the OpenGL APIs will help entrench both open standards in mobile development before Microsoft's DirectX has a chance to monopolize the market. That in turn will create a mobile bulwark which will likely help marginalize the dominance of DirectX in the broader computing landscape, just as the iPod pulled the wind from the sails of Microsoft's Windows Media DRM strategy. In the game console market, DirectX on the Xbox 360 faces Nintendo and Sony, both in the OpenGL camp. Mobile gaming is entirely based on OpenGL. On the PC desktop, the proprietary DirectX hegemony is facing erosion from increasing interest in cross platform support for Linux and Mac OS X, which can only be delivered via OpenGL.



By promoting OpenCL as an interoperable, open industry standard, Apple will level the playing field in the graphics arena, flattening Microsoft's monopoly position so that innovative companies can both contribute towards the state of the art and score touchdowns when they introduce superior products.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 72
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Hopefully, soon for this:



    Next Apple moves will be Books and Games…

    http://spidouz.wordpress.com/2008/09...ooks-and-games



    With full Mac OS X 10.5.6 inside. Firewire 800 and Ethernet ports. VGA video-out.



    AMAZING!
  • Reply 2 of 72
    The "facts" in your article about OpenGL are wong. What your are writing is maybe true in theory but thats just all.

    Take a look at the official Subset. If you want modern features you have to take the Extensions from Nvidia or ATI.



    Windows-OpenGL != Linux-OpenGL != Mac-OpenGL. And Nvidia-OpenGL != AMD-OpenGL



    e.g. NVIDIA Hardware und OpenGL problems

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...614#Post246614

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...267#Post246267

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...075#Post245075

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...629#Post242629

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...472#Post241472

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...209#Post246209



    OpenGL3 is a joke. Big promisses but nearly "nothing" happened. At the end also Carmack (one of the big supporters) was pissed about OpenGL3. DirectX is much better for the programmer.





    The PS3 is able to use PSGL. PSGL is a specified Version from OpenGL ES. But PSGL is just an option for the ps3. There are also so much extensions, that where remains nearly nothing from "to be independent from the hardware". No one who understand something from coding on the ps3 will use PSGL.

    The Nintendo Wii is using a Custom API. Some of the Concepts of OpenGL are simliar.
  • Reply 3 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    Hopefully, soon for this:



    Next Apple moves will be Books and Games…

    http://spidouz.wordpress.com/2008/09...ooks-and-games



    With full Mac OS X 10.5.6 inside. Firewire 800 and Ethernet ports. VGA video-out.



    AMAZING!



    VGA? Apple hasn't supported VGA in years and is set to move all their Macs from DVI to Mini DisplayPort at Macworld.





    Anyway, this article was very informative. Can't imagine just how awesome Apple's next generation iPhone/iPod touch platform will be.
  • Reply 4 of 72
    I'm glad to see Imagination getting right to work on leveraging OpenCL.



    Sure OpenGL 3.0 might not be all that people expected but the wait for OpenGL 3.1 hopefully

    isn't that long and that's the first release that breaks some backwards compatibility and moves forward.



    In the meantime OpenGL ES 2.0 along with faster processing and OpenCL should have a nice impact on the next iPhone update.



    In fact if they begin to use a Snow Leopard based core I think you'll finally see the arrival of background processing. My guess is Apple forbids it today because background processes would slow the phone down.



    Grand Central was designed precisely to manage these taskes and a low level while OpenCL manages your data (CPU, GPU) at a high level. The next iPhone would do well to support both technologies to enable more functionality.
  • Reply 5 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    ... Can't imagine just how awesome Apple's next generation iPhone/iPod touch platform will be.



    I think Apple is thinking beyond iPhones and iPods with this move.

    Apple will be basing their future "tablets" and "netbooks" on this same architecture.

    Apple wants notebook class performance in a "netbook" or "tablet" form factor.

    Something the competition will not be able to deliver because they must make compromises...Apple will not.
  • Reply 6 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by apfel View Post


    The "facts" in your article about OpenGL are wong. What your are writing is maybe true in theory but thats just all.

    Take a look at the official Subset. If you want modern features you have to take the Extensions from Nvidia or ATI.



    Windows-OpenGL != Linux-OpenGL != Mac-OpenGL. And Nvidia-OpenGL != AMD-OpenGL



    e.g. NVIDIA Hardware und OpenGL problems

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...614#Post246614

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...267#Post246267

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...075#Post245075

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...629#Post242629

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...472#Post241472

    http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boa...209#Post246209



    OpenGL3 is a joke. Big promisses but nearly "nothing" happened. At the end also Carmack (one of the big supporters) was pissed about OpenGL3. DirectX is much better for the programmer.





    The PS3 is able to use PSGL. PSGL is a specified Version from OpenGL ES. But PSGL is just an option for the ps3. There are also so much extensions, that where remains nearly nothing from "to be independent from the hardware". No one who understand something from coding on the ps3 will use PSGL.

    The Nintendo Wii is using a Custom API. Some of the Concepts of OpenGL are simliar.



    You've posted this comment twice now.



    Carmack's word isn't the be-all-end-all and besides, he said he was quite impressed by a little device that uses OpenGL exclusively - the iPhone:

    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles..._combined.html



    PSGL is based on OpenGL ES and OpenGL ES 1.0 is supported as one of the official PS3 graphics APIs.



    Finally, linking to forum posts to prove a point doesn't do much for the credibility of your statements.
  • Reply 7 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    Finally, linking to forum posts to prove a point doesn't do much for the credibility of your statements.



    The facts of my Postings are true and i know that nearly no one is using "OpenGL" (the "OpenGL" on the PS3 uses also a lot of extensions -> ) on the ps3, also from a person who is working in the Game-Industry (if i didn't understand him wrong)



    It is totally wrong that many people are thinking that opengl is the the perfect solution (in the sense of platform independent).



    I invite you for a discussion at www.3dcenter.de . There are some guys who know a lot of these things and who understand english:



    e.g. you can post in this thread: http://www.forum-3dcenter.org/vbulle...439348&page=10

    Registration is not required.
  • Reply 8 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    I think Apple is thinking beyond iPhones and iPods with this move.

    Apple will be basing their future "tablets" and "netbooks" on this same architecture.

    Apple wants notebook class performance in a "netbook" or "tablet" form factor.

    Something the competition will not be able to deliver because they must make compromises...Apple will not.



    Netbooks are junk and since netbook sales have not shown to be eating into Apple's premium, full-size laptop sales, but rather into cheap, junky, sub-$1000 full-size PC laptops, Apple has no real motivation to compete there. A tablet is more realistic, though it brings up other issues (namely whether to include a physical keyboard or force everyone to type on a virtual keyboard, which is quite different from typing on an iPhone with one's thumbs).
  • Reply 9 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by apfel View Post


    The facts of my Postings are true and i know that nearly no one is using "OpenGL" (the "OpenGL" on the PS3 uses also a lot of extensions -> ) on the ps3, also from a person who is working in the Game-Industry



    It is totally wrong that many people are thinking that opengl is the the perfect solution (in the sense of platform independent).



    Not sure what you mean by "platform independent," nor do I understand who here is suggesting OpenGL is somehow the perfect solution.



    OpenGL has a major edge over Microsoft's proprietary DirectX in consoles and now the incredibly popular iPhone/iPod touch platform, as well as the Mac of course, which is outpacing the PC industry 4 to 1. Windows gaming is a niche market that is disappearing thanks to consoles (including their own Xbox) and games like WoW (which doesn't require an awesome gaming rig to run); the Xbox is the only console using DX, but the original was completely overshadowed by Sony's PS2 and the 360 has been similarly marginalized by the Wii.
  • Reply 10 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    I think Apple is thinking beyond iPhones and iPods with this move.

    Apple will be basing their future "tablets" and "netbooks" on this same architecture.

    Apple wants notebook class performance in a "netbook" or "tablet" form factor.

    Something the competition will not be able to deliver because they must make compromises...Apple will not.



    Exactly!
  • Reply 11 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    N

    OpenGL has a major edge



    OpenGL Windows != OpenGL Linux != OpenGL Mac != "OpenGL" PS3 != ...



    Extensions from NVidia != ATI != PS3 , ...



    I heard that the Differences can be that big, that sometimes it is maybe easier to port a Game from Direct X to OpenGL than from one OpenGL to another OpenGL! OpenGL is full of proprietary extensions from the GPUs, if you want to use a modern feature set. Apple is going again in a special way.



    There is no "that" OpenGL.



    And the good Games on the PS3 don't use "OpenGL"/PSGL, from the things I heard.
  • Reply 12 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by apfel View Post


    OpenGL Windows != OpenGL Linux != OpenGL Mac != "OpenGL" PS3 != ...



    Extensions from NVidia != ATI != PS3 , ...



    I heard that the Differences are that big, that sometimes it is easier to port a Game from Direct X to OpenGL than from one OpenGL to another OpenGL! OpenGL is full of proprietary extensions from the GPUs, if you want to use a modern feature set. Apple is going again in a special way.



    There is no "that" OpenGL.



    And the good Games on the PS3 don't use "OpenGL"/PSGL, from the things I heard.



    No offense, but I don't go off hearsay.
  • Reply 13 of 72
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,883moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    By promoting OpenCL as an interoperable, open industry standard, Apple will level the playing field in the graphics arena, flattening Microsoft's monopoly position so that innovative companies can both contribute towards the state of the art and score touchdowns when they introduce superior products.



    That's assuming that OpenCL can be used to deliver what OpenGL lacks vs DirectX.



    Eventually I can see this being the case. Post-production graphics are mainly rendered on the CPU. With generic multi-threaded rendering like that in parallel on GPUs, OpenCL will deliver real-time photo-realism eventually and you don't need any better than that.



    OpenCL doesn't look very easy to develop with compared to DirectX and OpenGL code though. It's specialized code and it's not something developers will be able to hit the ground running with.



    I can't see a huge switchover in the short-term. Microsoft is a pretty big player when to comes to video games. They won't just roll over and let OpenGL + OpenCL take away their exclusivity and developers won't rush to modify their millions of lines of code game engines that are rooted in DirectX either.
  • Reply 14 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    No offense, but I don't go off hearsay.



    Take my invite and ask some questions about the things in that forum. There are some guys (maybe 3 to 8 persons, i dont't know) in that forum who know a lot of these things, because they work as programmer in the game industry (I think one is working for EA) or working at university with opengl and so on. If you have some luck, they will see your questions and will answer. If I remember right, there was e.g. also a Guy (Daniel Pohl) who is now working for Intel (Raytracing).



    I am no expert, don't understand the things about 3d and I was thinking always in the way you do (and like the most people), but I read some things and I know now that the things are different and not that easy with OpenGL I thought.



    Sure, I hope that OpenGL will be more attractive in the future and that it will also getting better. But I don't think it will be easy to beat Direct-X. Maybe the Situation, that you can't use Direct-X 10 on Windows XP and that many people dislike Vista was a big chance... it was, but OpenGL 3 came later than it was planed and wasn't that big cut, that opengl is needing from the old things inside.



    MS will indroduce also general purpose GPU in Direct-X (I think it will be part of Direct-X 11). I think OpenCL will be the standard outside gaming. But in the Gaming-Industry (on PCs) I don't believe that something is changing.



    I am out
  • Reply 15 of 72
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,944member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    VGA? Apple hasn't supported VGA in years and is set to move all their Macs from DVI to Mini DisplayPort at Macworld.



    That's not far from saying Apple doesn't support DisplayPort because they use a different connector. Apple hasn't had the physical D15 port on their computers in years, but they still support VGA signaling, just with a differently shaped ports. All you need is an add-on connector to use it. Even the new Mini DisplayPort models only need a simple plug-in adapter to use it.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by apfel View Post


    OpenGL Windows != OpenGL Linux != OpenGL Mac != "OpenGL" PS3 != ...



    Extensions from NVidia != ATI != PS3 , ...



    I heard that the Differences can be that big, that sometimes it is maybe easier to port a Game from Direct X to OpenGL than from one OpenGL to another OpenGL! OpenGL is full of proprietary extensions from the GPUs, if you want to use a modern feature set. Apple is going again in a special way.



    There is no "that" OpenGL.



    And the good Games on the PS3 don't use "OpenGL"/PSGL, from the things I heard.



    Didn't you say all that two or three times already today? Besides, posting the same thing to different threads is poor form.
  • Reply 16 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by apfel View Post


    The facts of my Postings are true ... nearly no one is using "OpenGL" (the "OpenGL" ... also from a person who is working in the Game-Industry (if i didn't understand him wrong) ... It is totally wrong that many people are thinking that opengl is the the perfect solution (in the sense of platform independent). ....



    Like most people here, I don't really want to get into an argument with you as you seem like a particularly intolerant ranter, but just saying something is "wrong" doesn't make it so.



    You are basing your opinions on the word of one guy who has a history of being an intolerant ranter himself. While some other (intelligent) people who are also in the industry at least partially agree with him, others don't at all.



    Open GL might even be a "failure" as an industry wide open standard right now but that's primarily because of Microsoft buggering things up with it's proprietary standard. It will take a while for things to be right again, but I think this article is making the *excellent* point, that it won't happen until everyone gets behind a truly open standard. The only other option is for everyone to simply get behind Active X but that isn't going to happen now is it?



    This situation is no different than the demise of Microsoft Office only it will take even longer because Microsoft is even more entrenched in this area.
  • Reply 17 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... Google's new Android mobile OS similarly shares less in common with desktop Linux platforms...



    This is the weakest point of the whole article. It's barely even true and closer to an opinion than fact.



    Google is basically doing with Android exactly what Apple is doing with iPhone OSX. Word has it that next year Android will be shipping on some netbooks making the equivalency even stronger. The people out of the loop in the mobile field are Palm, Symbian, and WindowsMobile, although Palm seems to be making an Android-like (but even uglier!) move of it's own with Nova.



    As this stuff filters back to the desktop world, the people out of the loop are Microsoft and ... well Microsoft. They will be sitting on top of the same proprietary investment, but leaking on all seams. Direct X, MSIE, Office, and all the other shite they have been stuffing down our throats for years will eventually fail as the world returns to the open standards that prevailed before the Microsoft era.



    It's just a long slow wave that we won't see the end of for years yet. Microsoft in particular, is still somewhere between the "denial" stage and the "anger" stage.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kübler-Ross_model
  • Reply 18 of 72
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Apple hasn't had the physical D15 port on their computers in years, but they have supported the analog signaling, all you need is an add-on connector to use it. Even the new DisplayPort models only need a simple plug-in adapter to use it.



    True, all I meant was they haven't been shipping Macs with VGA ports in quite some time.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Didn't you say all that two or three times already today? Besides, posting the same thing to different threads is poor form.



    Yes he did and I still have no idea what "!=" means.
  • Reply 19 of 72
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 11,912member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    Yes he did and I still have no idea what "!=" means.



    It means "does not equal" that tripped me up a couple of years ago as well.
  • Reply 20 of 72
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,944member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    It means "does not equal" that tripped me up a couple of years ago as well.



    For those that didn't know, I think it's C programming language. Maybe it's older but that's the oldest use that I know of. C++ and Obj-C use it as a result. Most often used to compare two different values, and perform a task based on the result. It's a different way of representing the ≠ symbol.
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