NVIDIA's PTX Back-End For GCC Has Been Published
Written by Michael Larabel in Compiler on 9 December 2013 at 10:58 AM EST. 4 Comments
As part of the work to bring OpenACC 2.0 and NVIDIA GPU support to GCC, a large set of patches were published this morning for adding NVIDIA's PTX back-end to the Free Software Foundation's compiler.

Back in November it was announced of OpenACC with GPU support coming to GCC via work being done by CodeSourcery, NVIDIA, and Oak Ridge National Labs. This announcement didn't excite everyone though with this CPU+GPU parallel programming standard coming to the GNU Compiler Collection. Some thing this work is harmful to GCC and could cause problems for the openness of GCC. Anyhow, CodeSourcery is marching on and working out the OpenACC and PTX support for GCC.

PTX (Parallel Thread Execution) is NVIDIA's Assembly-like language used in their Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) that the NVIDIA binary graphics driver then compiles into machine code for the graphics processor. PTX is basically an abstraction layer between the code and NVIDIA's hardware instruction set, which they don't publicly document. GCC target this intermediary layer that's only good when paired with the NVIDIA binary graphics driver is what's outraged some individuals. LLVM has long had a NVIDIA PTX back-end.

The initial GCC PTX patches are still a work-in-progress but they're hoping they'll be accepted into the GOMP4 branch. These initial NVIDIA PTX back-end patches can be found on the gcc-patches list.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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