[infobox type=”information”]opencl-20-small

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Format: PDF
Digital: 150-200 pages
Price: TBD
Author: The StreamHPC team
OpenCL-version: 2.0


Below are the books that are available as downloadable PDF or as a book. Please contact us if a printed book is missing. Note that I tend to be critical to books, and not to be overwhelming positive and talk in superlatives. Most books target C and C++ developers, so be sure you learn the basics of C or C++ first before learning OpenCL. Most important are bit-shifts, pointers and structs, but also thinking more in hardware than in getting-things-done is needed to get the full potential out of OpenCL. While you get that book on C, also get a book on computer-architecture to understand the concepts of bandwidth to its fullest. Then you are ready for one of the pearls below. Happy reading!

The books are ordered descending by published date, except the first.

“The OpenCL specifications” by the Khronos Group

2.0 – current version

Format: PDF
File Size: 2.2MB
Digital: 281 pages
Price: Free
Publisher: Khronos Group
Author: Aaftab Munshi (Editor)
Published Date: 13 July 2013 (version 2.0, revision 11)
OpenCL-version: 2.0
Homepage: http://www.khronos.org/registry/cl/http://www.khronos.org/registry/cl/specs/opencl-2.0.pdf

As a specifications-document, you cannot expect a nice piece of prose, but most of the knowledge you need to know is in it. There are certainly some gaps (especially in clear explanation), but every version is getting better. When studying other sources, always have this document with you as a reference. I printed it as two pages per side (A4).

Read chapters 1 to 3, and leave the rest as a reference. Other books explain the long, long lists of language specifications in a nicer form. Also the most you’ll better learn by doing.

1.2, 1.1, 1.0 – previous versions

Format: PDF
File Size: 3.3MB
Digital: 380 pages
Price: Free
Publisher: Khronos Group
Author: Aaftab Munshi (Editor)
Published Date: 14 November 2012 (version 1.2, revision 19)
OpenCL-version: 1.2
Homepage: http://www.khronos.org/registry/cl/

As many software is still written in a previous version, it is good to know the differences. Differences between 1.1 and 1.2 are written here.

OpenCL Programming By Example

Two version available, the 1.0 version and the 1.2 version. To start with the 1.2:

2342OT_OpenCL Programming By ExampleFormat: eBook/pBook
Pages: 304
Price: €4,50 (e), €50,- (p+e)
Publisher: PACKT
Authors: Ravishekhar Banger (AMD), Koushik Bhattacharyya (AMD)
Published Date: December 2013
OpenCL-version: 1.2
Homepage: http://www.packtpub.com/opencl-programming-by-example/book

“The OpenCL Programming Book” – Fixstars

Two version available, the 1.0 version and the 1.2 version. To start with the 1.2:

Format: eBook
Pages: 325
Price: USD 19.50
Publisher: Fixstars Corporation
Authors: Ryoji Tsuchiyama, Takashi Nakamura, Takuro Iizuka, Aki Asahara, Satoshi Miki, Jeongdo Son and Satoshi Miki. Satoru Tagawa (translator)
Published Date: January 2012
OpenCL-version: 1.2
Homepage: http://www.fixstars.com/en/opencl/book/

Format: eBook
Pages: 246
Price: free
Publisher: Fixstars Corporation
Authors: Ryoji Tsuchiyama, Takashi Nakamura, Takuro Iizuka, Akihiro Asahara, Satoshi Miki
Published Date: 31 March 2010
OpenCL-version: 1.0
Homepage: http://www.fixstars.com/en/opencl/book/OpenCLProgrammingBook/contents/

1.0-version: It seems to be translated from Japanese to English, but except some small typos and spelling errors the book is very easy to read. The book explains the chapters you could skip in Khronos’ specifications-document, but certainly is not complete since it discusses OpenCL 1.0 and has a focus on the basics. The parts where that build up a program step-by-step is a bit annoying to read, because they repeat the whole program again while only a few lines have changed. The book would be more like 180-200 pages if written more compact.

1.2-version: Thicker, more up to date and a promise there are less translation-errors.

Heterogeneous Computing with OpenCL, second edition

Format: pBook
Pages: 400 (approx.)
Price: USD 69.95
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Authors: Benedict Gaster, Lee Howes, David R. Kaeli, Perhaad Mistry & Dana Schaa
Published Date: Sept 2011
OpenCL-version: 1.2
Homepage: http://www.elsevierdirect.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780123877666

This is where we all chose OpenCL for: hybrid processors. And this book dives into that world completely, so we actually learn a lot new stuff about the advantages of having a GPU on your lap.

The new edition upgrades the book to version 1.2, but nothing much new has been added. So if you have the first edition, there is no need to buy the second edition.

OpenCL in Action

Format: eBook + pBook
Pages: 475
Price: USD 47.99 (e). USD 59.99 (p+e)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Matthew Scarpino
Published Date: non-final version updated regularly, target November 2011
OpenCL-version: 1.1
Homepage: http://www.manning.com/scarpino2/

Matthew Scarpino also wrote SWT/JFace In Action and Programming the Cell-processor, has a profession in Linux and has much experience in IT. The book seems to target an audience who want a more practical guide to learn OpenCL. He runs a blog at http://www.openclblog.com/

It is currently my favourite book and this one is a must-have for everybody interested or working with OpenCL.

OpenCL Programming Guide

Format: PDF and/or print
Pages: 648
Price: USD 35.19 (e), USD 43.99 (p), USD 59.39 (p+e)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Aaftab Munshi (Apple, Khronos Group), Benedict Gaster (AMD), Timothy G. Mattson, Dan Ginsburg
Published Date: August 2011
OpenCL-version: 1.1
Homepage: http://my.safaribooksonline.com/9780132488006 and http://www.openclprogrammingguide.com/

Aaftab Munshi is also responsible for the OpenCL-specifications, so he probably knows where he’s talking about.

The 648 pages it is quite bigger than the targeted 480. Currently this is a very good replacement for Fixstars’ book. Disadvantage is that sending the printed book overseas (not USA/Canada) is much too expensive and people from the Eurasian continent, Africa and Latin America should just print it locally – looking into that to find better options.

OpenCL Parallel Programming Development Cookbook


Format: pBook + eBook
Pages: 303 pages
Price: USD 26.39 (e) / 54.99 (p+e)
Publisher: PACT publishing
Author: Raymond Tay
Published Date: August 2013
OpenCL-version: 1.2
Homepage: http://www.packtpub.com/opencl-parallel-programming-development-cookbook/book

Introductory book for OpenCL beginners. Examples: histogram, Sobel edge detection, Matrix Multiplication, Sparse Matrix Vector Multiplication, Bitonic sort, Radix sort, n-body.

Programming Massively Parallel Processors

Format: pBook
Pages: 258 pages
Price: USD 46.40
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Authors: David B. Kirk (NVIDIA) and Wen-mei W. Hwu (University of Illinois)
Published Date: 28 January 2010
OpenCL-version: 1.1?
Homepage: http://blogs.nvidia.com/ntersect/2010/01/worlds-first-textbook-on-programming-massively-parallel-processors.html

The book claims to discuss both OpenCL and CUDA, but actually there is just one chapter on OpenCL and the focus is strong towards NVIDIA hardware. It is a nice book for people who need to learn to program CUDA-only software/hardware and don’t want a book that’s too hard to understand. There are assignments at the end of each chapter and important subjects are explained in detail, so you don’t need to have a hard time with those assignments.

It is not good for people interested in OpenCL-compliant architectures from AMD, ARM and IBM besides NVIDIA’s. It is one of the best resources to understand NVIDIA architectures from a view of a GPGPU-programmer. The second edition adds more chapters on for example MPI and OpenACC. It is also less negative about OpenCL than in the first edition.

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