The AMD Fusion Developer Summit, a tech forum dedicated to heterogeneous computing, is currently taking place in Seattle. This forum can be seen as AMD's answer to Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, which took place last month. However one important point distinguishes the two events: AMD designs as many CPU cores as it does GPUs. More than massively parallel computing, which uses GPUs, it's heterogeneous computing which is centre stage here.
Using CPU and GPU cores together is a complex task, notably because they don’t yet share a totally unified memory space, even if the Trinity APU does represent some progress here. Last year, AMD announced Fusion System Architecture
, an attempt to give some answers to this problem so as to be able to provide a platform that is simpler to use for a maximum of developers. AMD said at the time that it wanted to make FSA an open standard and publish full documentation before the end of 2011, putting a consortium into place to manage it.
AMD has fallen behind this schedule in the publication of the documentation, which is still unavailable. In the meantime it has renamed FSA, calling it Heterogeneous System Architecture so as to separate off the Fusion brand. A few months ago, AMD outlined its plans with respect to the consortium, now to be known as the HAS Foundation, with the aim of passing all the initial work done on to the foundation.
This edition of AFDS is an opportunity for AMD to cement the place of the HSA Foundation, which has been in existence for the last few days. The HSA Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which will henceforth be charged with the development and promotion of this open standard designed to simplify heterogeneous computing, whether this be with respect to PCs, smartphones or servers. Its task will also be to produce effective development tools and help train developers.
AMD is transferring all its initial work on FSA/HSA to the foundation, including an open source compiler, libraries and preliminary documentation concerning programming, hardware specifications and software specifications. Moreover, AMD is supplying some of the funds to set the foundation up.
The foundation has of course been designed to federate as many members as possible and membership can be of several types: founders (those invited during the first 90 days), promoters, supporters, contributors, academics and associates. As is generally the case with this type of organisation, each member participates in the funding according to their membership level: founder members for example contribute USD 125,000).
The representatives of five of the founding members of the HSA Foundation, who make up the current executive committee.
The HSA Foundation couldn’t have been set up without the support of other big names in the industry. The presence of ARM at last year’s AFDS left no doubt as to its interest in the project. For ARM, a company specialised in modules designed for SoC, heterogeneous computing is the only viable solution with respect to power consumption constrictions and it’s therefore no surprise to see that ARM is one of the founding members of the foundation. Others have joined the initiative and are all linked to SoC in one way or another: Imagination Technologies, MediaTek and Texas Instruments.
Each of these companies will be represented on the foundation's executive committee (Manju Hedge, Vice-President of developer solutions designed for heterogeneous computing at AMD and ex-CEO of Ageia; Jem Davies Vice-President responsible for the Media Processing division at ARM and so on), which will be managed on a day to day basis by Phil Rogers, President of the HSA Foundation and AMD Corporate Fellow.
Of course other major names are unfortunately absent, including Nvidia and, above all, Intel. The founding members haven’t given up hope of persuading them to join the initiative, though they aren’t holding their breath either. But it’s developers, more than anyone else, who they will have to convince and for this to happen, as Adobe, also present at AFDS, said, full, high-performance, reliable and easy-to-use tools will have to be developed. Plenty of work in perspective then!
You’ll be able to find all the information currently available on the HSA Foundation site