Fedora 21 Aims For Great OpenCL Support
Written by Michael Larabel in Fedora on 7 November 2013 at 09:55 AM EST. 4 Comments
If the next few months weren't already proving to be exciting enough for Linux fans with the many Linux 3.13 kernel features to come, continued open-source GPU driver improvements, more Linux improvements as a result of Valve's Linux gaming push, and Wayland beginning to take shape (on non-Ubuntu distributions), there's even more. Fedora 21 is aiming to be the first tier-one Linux distribution with "out of the box" OpenCL support.

A new feature proposal for Fedora 21 is to bring basic OpenCL support to Fedora for OpenCL-enabled software and to further CL development in general. The feature proposal is to enable Mesa's OpenCL "Clover" state tracker by default and packaging key OpenCL compoonents like POCL and Beignet.

The Gallium3D OpenCL state tracker in conjunction with the Radeon driver (and to some extent Nouveau) can run basic OpenCL workloads like BFGminger to harvest some bitcoins, but it's incomplete right now for being a complete OpenCL 1.x implementation for exploiting the compute power of modern GPUs. Fortunately, AMD and others are making good progress on advancing its capabilities to become usable and more comparable in support to the CL capabilities found in the proprietary AMD / NVIDIA drivers. With Fedora 21 there will be Mesa 10.1 or potentially Mesa 11.0 and hopefully by then will be some decent OpenCL usage capabilities to make enabling the state tracker worthwhile.

The other OpenCL changes being pushed for Fedora 21 include packaging up POCL (the Portable Computing Language) for having a CPU-only OpenCL implementation. The packaging in fact is already complete for this feature proposal.

The third major OpenCL milestone is packaging Beignet, which is the Intel-only implementation for doing GPGPU on their newer generations of graphics cores. With the Intel Mesa driver not using Gallium3D, Intel developers ended up designing their own project (dubbed Beignet) for providing OpenCL in a completely different form than the Clover state tracker. Beignet has drawn criticism but Intel's large staff keeps working on it so hopefully it will be a worthwhile implementation in short order.

Some of the other minor work includes packaging libclc and other CL-related libraries/applications like GOCL, clinfo, erlang-cl, ViennaCL, PyOpenCL, and OCLToys. Some of these packages have already been done for Fedora.

Having all of these items packaged and the key OpenCL implementations shipped in Fedora 21 could do a lot for pushing open-source OpenCL support. For more details on this Fedora feature proposal stop by the Fedora Project Wiki.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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