WebCL Widget for WordPress

webcl-widget-adminSee the widget at the right showing if your browser+computer supports WebCL?

It is available under the GPL 2.0 license and based on code from WebCL@NokiaResearch (thanks guys for your great Firefox-plugin!)

Download from WordPress.org and unzip in /wp-content/plugins/. Or (better), search for a new plugin: “WebCL”. Feedback can be given in the comments.

I’d like to get your feedback what features you would like to see in the next version.

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Q&A with Adrien Plagnol and Frédéric Langlade-Bellone on WebCL

WebCL_300WebCL is a great technique to have compute-power in the browser. After WebGL which gives high-end graphics in the browser, this is a logical step on the road towards the browser-only operating system (like Chrome OS, but more will follow).

Another way to look at technologies like WebCL, is that it makes it possible to lift the standard base from the OS to the browser. If you remember the trial of Microsoft’s integration of Internet Explorer, the focus was on the OS needing the browser for working well. Now it is the other way around, but it can be any OS. This is because the push doesn’t come from below, but from above.

Last year two guys from Lyon (South-France) got quite some attention, as they wrote a WebCL-plugin. Their names: Adrien Plagnol and Frédéric Langlade-Bellone. Below you’ll find a Q&A with them on WebCL. Enjoy! Continue reading “Q&A with Adrien Plagnol and Frédéric Langlade-Bellone on WebCL”

Neil Trevett on OpenCL

The Khronos Group gave some talks on their technologies in Shanghai China on the 17th of March 2012. Neil Trevett did some interesting remarks on the position of NVidia on OpenCL I would like to share with you. Neil Trevett is both an important member of Khronos and employee of NVidia. To be more precise, he is the Vice President Mobile Content of NVidia and the president of Khronos. I think we can take his comments serious, but we must be very careful as these are mixed with his personal opinions.

Regular readers of the blog have seen I am not enthusiastic at all about NVidia’s marketing, but am a big fan of their hardware. And exactly I am very positive they are bold enough in the industry to position themselves very well with the fast-changing markets of the upcoming years. Having said that, let’s go to the quotes.

All quotes were from this video. Best you can do is to start at 41:50 till 45:35.

At 44:05 he states: “In the mobile I think space CUDA is unlikely to be widely adopted“, and explains: “A party API in the mobile industry doesn’t really meet market needs“. Then continues with his vision on OpenCL: “I think OpenCL in the mobile is going to be fundamental to bring parallel computation to mobile devices” and then “and into the web through WebCL“.

Also interesting at 44:55: “In the end NVidia doesn’t really mind which API is used, CUDA or OpenCL. As long as you are get to use great GPUs“. He ends with a smile, as “great GPUs” refers to NVidia’s of course. 🙂

At 45:10 he puts NVidia’s plans on HPC, before getting back to : “NVidia is going to support both [CUDA and OpenCL] in HPC. In Mobile it’s going to be all OpenCL“.

At 45:23 he repeats his statements: “In the mobile space I expect OpenCL to be the primary tool“.

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The current state of WebCL

Years ago Microsoft was in court as it claimed Internet Explorer could not be removed from Windows without breaking the system, while competitors claimed it could. Why was this so important? Because (as it seems) the browser would get more important than the OS and internet as important as electricity in the office and at home. I was therefore very happy to see the introduction of WebGL, the browser-plugin for OpenGL, as this would push web-interfaces as the default for user-interfaces. WebCL is a browser-plugin to run OpenCL-kernels. Meaning that more powerful hardware-devices are available to JavaScript. This post is work-in-progress as I try to find more resources! Seen stuff like this? Let me know.

Continue reading “The current state of WebCL”

WebCL – a next step

WebGL is already secured to be a success; only IE-users will not have the 3D-web without plugin. But once sites like Wikipedia starts to offer 3D-imagery of the human body and buildings (as we know in Google Earth’s KML-format), things can go really fast in favour of the WebGL-supported browsers. This is important, because the balance between the computers/smartphones and the servers (you know: internet) just got somewhat more connected. I was first somewhat critical, because I want the web to have content (text and images) and not be “an ultimate experience” – luckily it turned out to be good for the content. I’m looking forward to Wikipedia and hardware accelerated services like Streetview!

A possible next step would be WebCL. But is it technically possible? And what would the internet-landscape be to be ready for such thing? Khronos did mention to be working on such technique, according to this article. But not much attention was given to it. So I was happy to see a GSOC11 proposal WebCL-plugin for Firefox by Adrien Plagnol. They even have some code. But it was already finished for Firefox 4 (Windows and Linux), I learnt about a week ago.

WebCL by Nokia

It is very simple: it is a Javascript-version of the host-specific OpenCL code. Kernels are just kernels as we know them.

Nokia has put together a very nice WebCL homepage, which contains tutorials. And at lesson one we see how it looks like:

function detectCL() {
  // First check if the WebCL extension is installed at all

  if (window.WebCL == undefined) {
    alert("Unfortunately your system does not support WebCL. " +
          "Make sure that you have both the OpenCL driver " +
          "and the WebCL browser extension installed.");
    return false;

  // Get a list of available CL platforms, and another list of the
  // available devices on each platform. If there are no platforms,
  // or no available devices on any platform, then we can conclude
  // that WebCL is not available.

  try {
    var platforms = WebCL.getPlatformIDs();
    var devices = [];
    for (var i in platforms) {
      var plat = platforms[i];
      devices[i] = plat.getDeviceIDs(WebCL.CL_DEVICE_TYPE_ALL);
    alert("Excellent! Your system does support WebCL.");
  } catch (e) {
    alert("Unfortunately platform or device inquiry failed.");

As you can see this is very understandable code, if you know the basics of OpenCL and JavaScript. It is built for stability, so it seems to crash less easily than I expected.

I’ve written/tweeted a lot about OpenCL wrappers and how I think the OpenCL-ecosphere advances mainly by the growing up of the wrappers. Complaints about the far too long initialisation of OpenCL-software can easily be put in just a few lines of code. We now start from scratch again, but I will not be wonder-struck if there will be a jQuery-plugin released soon.


In the first place, think real-time encryption which can be adapted per user without the browser knowing. There are many more reasons all going back to the demand to have a browser-based computer (like Google is trying with its ChromeOS). All OS-APIs need to be available in a HTML5-like language and this is exactly that.

What are you still doing here? Install the Opencl-plugin for Firefox 4 and try Nokia’s online OpenCL-sandbox now! +1 for crashing it, +2 for sending in a bug-report.