At the AMD Fusion Developers Conference in Bellevue on Tuesday some of the world’s top semiconductor companies announced the formation of the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation, a consortium with the goal of defining and promoting an open, standards-based approach to heterogeneous computing.
AMD first announced an HSA strategy in February to develop an SDK so developers can better write portable applications for multicore chips.
Chaired by AMD corporate fellow Phil Rogers, the consortium will include AMD, ARM, Texas Instruments, MediaTek, and Imagination Technologies.
Intel and NVIDIA are not members of this consortium.
By standardizing the heterogeneous programming model, developers can code applications that take full advantage of the system’s available CPUs and GPUs and are portable across architectures.
In the spirit of heterogeneous computing, specifications outlined by the HSA will be strictly hardware agnostic.
“HSA moves the industry beyond the constraints of the legacy system architecture of the past 25-plus years that is now stifling software innovations,” said AMD’s Phil Rogers. “By aiming HSA squarely at the needs of the software developer, we have designed a common hardware platform for high performance, energy efficient solutions.
For the HSA, supporting and enhancing OpenCL – a programming API for parallel execution of tasks across multicore processors – will be a priority.
“HSA benefits OpenCL by removing memory copies, bringing low-latency dispatch, and helping improve memory model and pointers shared between the CPU and GPU,” said AMD spokersperson Phil Hughes.
In a press release, the HSA’s founding members said the Foundation intends to start producing and offering developer tools, software developer kits (SDKs), libraries, documentation, training, and support to the heterogeneous software development community as soon as possible.
Press materials say the Foundation is “open to any and all computing industry professionals with an interest in driving the next era in computing performance and energy efficiency.”
“One year ago, AMD boldly announced a roadmap for making HSA a reality, starting with combining the CPU and GPU as a unified processing engine to create an architecture that would greatly simplify the programming of heterogeneous platforms,” added Manju Hegde, corporate vice president of Heterogeneous Applications and Developer Solutions for AMD.
“Today, we are continuing our heterogeneous computing leadership and dedication to driving broad industry adoption by making the HSA architecture an open standard.”
The establishment of the HSA opens another channel of cooperation between ARM and AMD. Speculation amongst investors and the press has been rampant during the past few months that AMD might purchase ARM, however, Jem Davies, ARM’s vice president of Technology emphatically denied that any such deal was taking place when asked at a post announcement press conference.