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The Portland Group, AMD ink deal on compiler tech

Posted: 24 Nov 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:compiler technology  C compilers  FireStream  GPU accelerators 

The Portland Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of STMicroelectronics and supplier of compilers for high-performance computing (HPC), has entered a deal with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to jointly work on a compiler technology for AMD FireStream compute accelerators.

As part of the agreement, PGI and AMD will investigate and develop technology to enable PGI Fortran and C compilers to generate code directly for AMD FireStream boards and to generate heterogeneous x64+GPU executables that enable automatic utilisation of AMD FireStream products if present in a system.

The Portland Group recently delivered a technology preview of what it touts as the industry's first standard Fortran and C compilers that automatically offload computations from an x64 host program to a GPU. Until now, C and C++ developers targeting GPU accelerators have had to rely on language extensions or library-based solutions, and use of GPUs from Fortran applications has been extremely limited.

The PGI x64+GPU programming model enables programmers to accelerate applications simply by adding portable compiler directives, treated as comments by other compilers, to existing standard-compliant Fortran and C programs and recompiling with appropriate compiler options. This gives individual developers the power to incrementally use accelerator technology where appropriate in large existing applications, eliminating the need for expensive and difficult corporate-level platform migration or acquisition decisions.

"Until now, industry CIO's and government and university lab directors have encountered difficult decisions when evaluating accelerator technologies," said Douglas Miles, director, The Portland Group. "Which accelerators do I choose? How do I retrain developers to use accelerators? How much will I have to invest in new software technologies? Working together with AMD, we will work to make FireStream compute accelerators easily accessible to mainstream C and Fortran developers and unlock the power of these devices using PGI compilers that are already in use at most of the significant HPC centres and sites."

PGI develops and markets high-performance C/C++ and Fortran compilers and development tools that are widely used by engineers and scientists in high-performance computing (HPC), the field of technical computing engaged in the modelling and simulation of complex processes, such as ocean modelling, weather forecasting, seismic analysis, bioinformatics and other areas. PGI compilers and tools are designed to extract maximum performance from the latest multi-core x64 processors, including the recently announced 45nm quad-core AMD Opteron processors from AMD.

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