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Oracle Joins HSA Foundation To Help Java Devs with Heterogeneous Computing

Oracle wants to make it easier for Java developers to leverage the combined power of CPUs, graphics processing units (GPUs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and digital signal processors (DSPs) -- so-called heterogeneous computing -- and the database giant has thrown in with other organizations in an industry consortium to do it.

Oracle was among several industry leaders to announce plans to join the Heterogeneous System Architecture Foundation (HSAF) at this year's 2013 AMD Developer Summit. The not-for-profit consortium of system-on-a-chip vendors, OEMs, academics, ISVs and others is developing royalty-free specifications for system architectures that combine different kinds of processors. The foundation's goal is to make it easier to write code for these multi-breed systems, and to grow a heterogeneous compute ecosystem based on an industry standard.

Among other things, the Foundation is defining "key interfaces" for parallel computing with CPUs, GPUs, DSPs and other programmable and fixed function devices to create "the next foundation in general purpose computing," the group explains on its Web site. "Most importantly," the group says, "we are driving to bring greater developer productivity to heterogeneous computing by removing many of the barriers of traditional heterogeneous programing so they can focus on their algorithms and not managing system resources."

"Joining the HSA Foundation represents the next step towards bringing heterogeneous computing to millions of developers, as well as the introduction of new server and cloud programming paradigms," said Nandini Ramani, VP of development in Oracle's Java Platform group, in a statement. "Our work with the HSA Foundation will help provide Java developers with the ability to quickly leverage GPU acceleration, and explore how the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), as well as the Java language and APIs, might be enhanced to allow applications to take advantage of heterogeneous compute."

The HSAF is currently working on several standards projects: the HSA Platform Systems Architecture Specification version 1.0; an update of the HSA Programmer's Reference Manual: HSAIL Virtual ISA and Programming Model, Compiler Writer's Guide, and Object Format; the HSA System Runtime Specification  Draft Specification; and the HSA Tools project. The Foundation has published the AMD IOMMUv2 Architectural Specification and the first version of HSA Programmer's Reference Manual: HSAIL Virtual ISA and Programming Model, Compiler Writer's Guide, and Object Format

The Foundation is reaching out to a specific group of developers with its new Open Source Developer Program, also announced at the conference. With this program, the Foundation is aiming to drive developer productivity in heterogeneous computing environments. The idea is to free developers from the need to manage system resources in these environments (so they can focus on their algorithms) with core tools, runtimes, and simulators designed to allow coders to access HSA technologies. The program will also seek to provide documentation and tools designed to accelerate the development of apps on top of HSAF runtimes technologies, and just generally provide devs with a place to contribute to open source HSAF tools and runtimes.

No launch date has been announced for the Open Source Developer Program. A "coming soon" message is currently posted on the Web site.

Posted by John K. Waters on November 20, 2013