GPGPU “to accelerate operating systems”

NVIDIA RECKONS Open CL and Direct X are key to operating system acceleration on the GPU and claims GPGPU (general-purpose graphics processing units) will allow for serious speed-ups of Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Snow Leopard.

The green goblin’s Tesla products manager, Sumit Gupta, told CNet that OpenCL and DirectX were the tools which would allow OSs to take advantage of a machine’s graphics chips, speeding up the software and taking pressure off the CPU.

Now, with OpenCL forming part of Apple’s Snow Leopard and DirectX included in Windows 7, Gupta said punters with GPUs would be able to, “run the operating system faster because the operating system will essentially see two processors in the system.”

“For the first time, the operating system is going to see the GPU both as a graphics chip and as a compute engine,” he added.

Gupta said the increasing trend towards GPU acceleration didn’t signal the death of the CPU, explaining that for unpredictable tasks, the CPU was still “the jack of all trades”. He added, however, that the GPU was particularly adept at performing highly parallel tasks quickly.
Taking Apple’s OS as an example, Gupta noted its interface actually contained, “more visual content than there is sequential (CPU) content,” meaning there was more available for the GPU to work on and accelerate. Google’s Picassa picture editing tool was trumpeted as an example of software which could easily be accelerated on the computer’s graphics chip.

It certainly hasn’t been an easy road to tapping the GPU’s power, with Gupta saying the most difficult aspect for programmers had been having to use a graphics language to squeeze any use whatsoever out of it. Now, however, with OpenCL and Nvidia’s much-hyped Cuda, programmers have access to a language conveniently based on C, making programming for the GPU that much easier.

“The CPU,” concluded Gupta, “is one aspect but not necessarily the most important aspect anymore”.

News source: TheInquirer

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