Sunday, April 19, 2015

About SPIR-V and OpenCL 2.1

Less than a couple of months ago the provisional release of OpenCL 2.1 and SPIR-V byte code was announced. SPIR-V is now defined completely from the ground-up and is not a patched LLVM derivative anymore. The real good news is that Khronos will push extended language features (C++) to be supported through an offline compiler.

Let me explain. I believe that the source compiler should never have been a part of the device driver. Using an offline compiler and feeding the OpenCL runtime with kernels in a bytecode format would allow the runtime to be more lightweight, which is very important especially for mobile devices. It would also prove to be less error prone and more portable. My sense is that OpenCL consumption by the runtime will be obsolete in future OpenCL releases. I always found weird the way by supplying text source code to the library during runtime. This is a change for good and it will allow vendors releasing their implementations faster.

I also want to note that NVidia, after all these years of stagnation, silently released drivers supporting OpenCL 1.2 which allows us dreaming a future driver supporting SPIR-V. They do not support Fermi through (only Kepler & Maxwell).

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