Waiting for Mobile OpenCL

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People who follow me, know my interest in ARM Cortex CPU & Mali GPU and Imagination Technology’s PowerVR, regarding OpenCL-potential. Here is an overview of what I found out until now and has more open ends than answers. I was very hopeful about access to mobile OpenCL for developers, but now I think it will have to wait until 2011. It seems that the mobile phone makers keep the power to themselves in the form of system-libraries instead of giving direct access. Actually a wise choice, given the fact that a bad kernel could easily crash the phone.

Imagination Technology’s PowerVR SGX product provides the GPU-power for the iPhone 4 and various new Android phones. The company does not provide an OpenCL SDK directly to end-users, but leaves the responsibility to the implementers of their IP. Strangely enough they offer SDKs for OpenGL, and say “no comment” to a pretty direct forum-question. In other words: we don’t know what to expect.

Samsung has the only official implementation for ARM (ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU) for OpenCL. Samsung just released their home-made Linux-based mobile phone OS “Bada”, but there is not a sign of OpenCL in their API. Samsung being the only one who could open an API to developers on their phones officially, does not make me smile yet.

There are many, many voices that Apple iOS 4 has support for OpenCL, but then only in the system-libraries. Given the fact that Apple is a big fan of OpenCL, we can assume this is true. See the web for a lot of articles about this.

ZiiLabs is open about their support for OpenCL in their ZMS-05 processor, and has an early access program. Early access still means waiting.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon does not mention OpenCL at all, while it powers the more powerful smartphones. It mentions a recent job-post, so you know the drill: wait.

Android has good support for OpenGL ES, but not officially for OpenCL.You might have heard of the particle experiment for Android, which is actually OpenGL-based. It also mentions the Android-version of the bullet engine (broken link) for physics-computations, but also no OpenCL. It doesn’t look like Android “Gingerbread” will have support.

So what did you learn after reading this? That developers still won’t have access to OpenCL-API on a mobile platform, and that you have to wait until next year or enter ZiiLabs’ early access program. More about the good and bad of hiding OpenCL on this blog.

 

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