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Re: st: OpenCL in Snow Leopard


From   Alan Riley <ariley@stata.com>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   Re: st: OpenCL in Snow Leopard
Date   Tue, 9 Jun 2009 10:38:00 -0500

David Airey <david.airey@vanderbilt.edu> asked about OpenCL in
Apple's new operating system for Mac, "Snow Leopard":

> I was watching some Apple propaganda today and wondered about  
> statistical computing and OpenCL. Will Stata or other statistical  
> environments be expected to take advantage of OpenCL in Snow Leopard?

If anyone is wondering what OpenCL is, Wikipedia has a nice description:

   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCL

In short, it is a framework, or a language plus a set of application
programming interfaces (APIs), for writing applications which can take
advantage of parallel processing on CPUs, GPUs (graphics card
processors), and other processors.

No applications will be "expected", or forced, by Snow Leopard to use
OpenCL.  Stata/MP is implemented using a different framework (OpenMP)
which is better for Stata's needs given the current state of OpenCL, and
Stata/MP will work well under Snow Leopard.

We are very interested in watching the development of OpenCL.  The
largest roadblock in OpenCL for serious scientific applications is
that it does not yet fully support double-precision computing:

http://www.khronos.org/developers/library/overview/opencl_overview.pdf#page=35

The reason for this is that most modern GPUs do not support
double-precision arithmetic.  However, there is hope as the
standard C type 'double' is reserved in OpenCL, and as hardware becomes
available which can support double-precision computing in OpenCL, we
expect that OpenCL will in turn support that hardware.

We are very interested in parallel computing.  We are watching the
developments in this field and plan on keeping Stata at the forefront of
parallel statistical computing.


  --Alan Riley             --David Drukker
    ariley@stata.com         ddrukker@stata.com

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