Nvidia jumps on OpenCL for GPUs train

Santa Clara (CA) – Nvidia today released its first OpenCL driver and software development kit (SDK) for GeForce GPUs and Tesla HPC cards. It is a critical move for Nvidia that is yet another sign that OpenCL is emerging as the common development platform for GPGPU acceleration in software – and will show its impact in Apple’s Snow Leopard OS, scheduled for release later this year.    

Nvidia is first to release an OpenCL driver and SDK, even if it is only a pre-beta at this time. The company said that the purpose of the release is to “to solicit early feedback in advance of a beta release which will be made available to all GPU Computing Registered Developers in the coming months.”

“The OpenCL standard was developed on NVIDIA GPUs and NVIDIA was the first company to demonstrate OpenCL code running on a GPU,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of technology and content at NVIDIA. “Being the first to release an OpenCL driver to developers cements NVIDIA’s leadership in GPU Computing and is another key milestone in our ongoing strategy to make the GPU the soul of the modern PC.”

It is difficult to say whether Nvidia, which has been clearly focused on making CUDA the common many-core development platform, in fact has a lead in this OpenCL effort. We heard that AMD also has a pre-beta SDK out there, but cannot make any public announcements due to non-disclosure agreements.

Apple’s MacOS X Snow Leopard will be one of the first major applications to take advantage of GPU computation capability based on OpenCL. However, we were told that we should not expect too much of an impact, which will, according to our sources, be limited to visualization – such as complex animations – in this first release.