Apple excited as The Khronos Group ratifies OpenCL 1.0 specification

The Khronos Group today announced the ratification and public release of the OpenCL 1.0 specification, the first open, royalty-free standard for cross-platform, parallel programming of modern processors found in personal computers, servers and handheld/embedded devices. OpenCL (Open Computing Language) greatly improves speed and responsiveness for a wide spectrum of applications in numerous market categories from gaming and entertainment to scientific and medical software.

Proposed six months ago as a draft specification by Apple, OpenCL has been developed and ratified by industry-leading companies including 3DLABS, Activision Blizzard, AMD, Apple, ARM, Barco, Broadcom, Codeplay, Electronic Arts, Ericsson, Freescale, HI, IBM, Intel Corporation, Imagination Technologies, Kestrel Institute, Motorola, Movidia, Nokia, NVIDIA, QNX, RapidMind, Samsung, Seaweed, TAKUMI, Texas Instruments and Umea University. The OpenCL 1.0 specification and more details are available at

“The opportunity to effectively unlock the capabilities of new generations of programmable compute and graphics processors drove the unprecedented level of cooperation to refine the initial proposal from Apple into the ratified OpenCL 1.0 specification,” said Neil Trevett, chair of the OpenCL working group, president of the Khronos Group and vice president at NVIDIA, in the press release. “As an open, cross-platform standard, OpenCL is a fundamental technology for next generation software development that will play a central role in the Khronos API ecosystem and we look forward to seeing implementations within the next year.”

“We are excited about the industry-wide support for OpenCL,” said Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, in the press releease. “Apple developed OpenCL so that any application in Snow Leopard, the next major version of Mac OS X, can harness an amazing amount of computing power previously available only to graphics applications.”

OpenCL enables software developers to take full advantage of a diverse mix of multi-core CPUs, Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), Cell-type architectures and other parallel processors such as Digital Signal Processors (DSPs). OpenCL consists of an API for coordinating parallel computation and a programming language for specifying those computations. Specifically, the OpenCL standard defines:
• a subset of the C99 programming language with extensions for parallelism;
• an API for coordinating data and task-based parallel computation across a wide range of heterogeneous processors;
• numerical requirements based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ IEEE 754 standard;
• efficient interoperability with OpenGL, OpenGL ES and other graphics APIs.

Elliot Garbus, Intel vice president and general manager Visual Computing Software Division said in the press release: “Over the years Intel has worked closely with the industry to innovate through open standards and is a long standing member of the Khronos board of promoters. With the introduction of OpenCL, we see new opportunities for developers to innovate through a task- and data-parallel programming environment that can benefit from the performance and flexibility of current and future Intel products.”
Tony King-Smith, vice president of marketing at Imagination Technologies: “Imagination is delighted to have been involved in the authoring of OpenCL, which we see as a significant development for the future of GP-GPU based computing for multimedia.”

Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of technical marketing at NVIDIA stated: “OpenCL adds fuel to the most exciting parallel computational revolution of our generation – GPU Computing. It also provides another powerful way to harness the enormous processing capabilities of our CUDA-based GPUs on multiple platforms.”
Michael McCool, founder and chief scientist at RapidMind said: “As a provider of a high-level parallel programming platform, RapidMind is excited about the availability of a new standard for targeting compute devices through a single API. The low-level access to a variety of devices provided by OpenCL will allow our platform to expand to new devices more quickly than ever before.”

Representatives from Khronos and the OpenCL Working Group will be presenting an overview of the OpenCL specification at the Khronos Developer University at SIGGRAPH Asia in Singapore on 10th December 2008. More details of this free event are available here.

The Khronos Group is an industry consortium creating open standards to enable the authoring and acceleration of parallel computing, graphics and dynamic media on a wide variety of platforms and devices. Khronos standards include OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenMAX, OpenVG, OpenKODE, and COLLADA. All Khronos members are able to contribute to the development of Khronos specifications, are empowered to vote at various stages before public deployment, and are able to accelerate the delivery of their cutting-edge media platforms and applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance tests.

Khronos, OpenKODE, OpenVG, and OpenMAX are trademarks of the Khronos Group Inc. OpenCL is a trademark of Apple Inc., COLLADA is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and OpenGL is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc. used under license by Khronos.

Source: Khronos Group

MacDailyNews Note: From Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard webpage: Another powerful Snow Leopard technology, OpenCL (Open Computing Language), makes it possible for developers to efficiently tap the vast gigaflops of computing power currently locked up in the graphics processing unit (GPU). With GPUs approaching processing speeds of a trillion operations per second, they’re capable of considerably more than just drawing pictures. OpenCL takes that power and redirects it for general-purpose computing.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Judge Bork” for the heads up.]


  1. It’s great, but it’d be better if we’d get real video cards in our Macs. Windows with Open CL would have a much greater speed boost thanks to their far superior GPU choice. I want to see an HD4870 X2 in my Mac Pro.

  2. Hmm, pretty impressive list of partners there – I didn’t notice Microsoft, HP, or Dell though. Yet another reason Snow Leopard will kick ASS! I really like this whole refine, optimize, and speed up idea for this release.

  3. @Monk VanDu

    I noticed the same, it kinda makes sense for HP and Dell not to be on the list (they don’t make graphics cards, CPU’s, or OS’s, they just put them together). It is kinda surprising to not see MS on the list, you would think that they would want to be in on this if nothing else but to be able to gum up the works and prevent it from truly taking off while they roll their own (poorly implemented) version and get it out the door first.

  4. Thus Apple finds an efficient way of replacing the AltiVec vector processing module from the PowerPC days.

    I can’t believe that these events are merely fortuitous. Apple clearly has a long-term plan, and it has been working extremely well since CY2000 or so. I would love a peek at Apple’s plans for the next three to five years. I promise that I won’t squeal to MDN ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  5. for we (me) laypersons…

    “Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of technical marketing at NVIDIA stated: ‘OpenCL adds fuel to the most exciting parallel computational revolution of our generation – GPU Computing. It also provides another powerful way to harness the enormous processing capabilities of our CUDA-based GPUs on multiple platforms.'”

    …means… snappy.

    (lay + fuel + exciting)
    who luvs ya. baby.

  6. @Kingmel, I agree. These steps are so well coordinated, they had to have been planned years in advance, from the beginnings of Mac OS X. In fact, they had to have been first thought of at NeXT. I like that Bertrand Serlet is leading the Apple software group. He’s my pick to follow Steve.

  7. Come on Bertrand, you know Apple is not “excited” about anything. As you know well, Apple is “thrilled” about everything. I suggest you make the approved, Apple sanctioned substitution in any future remarks.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Seriously this is good news for Apple. I’m thrilled to hear it! Congratulations Apple.

  8. @KingMel

    Right you are sir – I remember watching Apple innovate their way out of the last economic downturn after 9/11, and iTunes and iPod, and now iPhone, have been sending the wannabes scurrying for their piece of the “me too” pie since then; I see them doing the same this time. While the competition downsizes and tries to sell as much of the cheapest rubbish possible to remain afloat, Apple is sitting pretty on 25 billion, with several key products in the pipeline, and who knows how much more untold goodness to come. When happy times return, Apple will have their next game-changer, and all the competition will again start up their photocopiers. Lather rinse repeat.

  9. Of course, Microsoft has decided that they want to create their own ‘use GPU as CPU’ instruction specification, which should be completed soon, when they are finished making sure it is incompatible at a hardware level with OpenCL.

  10. In 3… 2… 1…

    Microsoft embraces OpenCL and promptly announces OpenXCL standard where X stands for extended^H^H^Hsible. It will be certified by ISO after Microsoft puts up the bri^H^H^Hdonation.

  11. @Randian
    I’m simply saying that it would be nice to see the latest and greatest video cards in the latest and greatest computers. Since Mac OS X is the only place we can get the advantages of the top notch Mac OS X, it’d be nice to all the top notch hardware to go with it. We’ve got everything, except the video cards.

    CandTsmac is right. I’m speaking specifically about the Mac Pro (Apple’s true powerhouses) where video cards lag horribly, no argument. Barefeats did a good job of showing that the best video cards do a lot for a system. Now the best would help even more.

    I’m happy with the current Macs, it would just be nice to see them live up to their full potential. I thoroughly enjoy watching Macs tear Windows boxes apart. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

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