Intel Beignet Is Working Out Surprisingly Well For OpenCL On Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 30 August 2014 at 04:04 PM EDT. 21 Comments
Beignet is the project out of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center for exposing GPGPU/compute capabilities out of Ivy Bridge hardware and newer when using a fully open-source Linux stack. While Beignet differs greatly from Gallium3D's Clover state tracker, this Intel-specific open-source OpenCL implementation is working out quite well for Ubuntu Linux.

While I've been writing about Intel's Beignet project since early 2013, it's probably been about a year now since I tried out the code, which is developed by Intel's OTC graphics team in China. This weekend I tried out Beignet v0.9.2 as trying out the newest Intel OpenCL code has been on my TODO list for a while and it's been working out rather well in my initial tests.

For this initial testing I was using a Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" processor via the CompuLab Intense-PC, but Beignet also currently supports Intel Haswell and Bay Trail hardware too. I was doing my initial Beignet experiments from an Ubuntu 14.04 LTS installation, which was working out fine but I ended up pulling in LLVM/Clang 3.4 instead of LLVM/Clang 3.3 due to some build issues faced otherwise. Beignet is also packaged within the Ubuntu archive, but it's a vastly outdated version (even the Beignet currently queued for Ubuntu 14.10 is back on the Beignet 0.8 series).


After meeting all the necessary build dependencies and using LLVM/Clang 3.4, it was incredibly easy to get started and clinfo was quickly showing off Intel's new Linux OpenCL implementation. For any Phoronix reader half comfortable with using the command-line, it should be easy to build Beignet on modern distributions via the details mentioned at the Beignet Wiki.


In terms of how far the CL support is, Beignet 0.9 supports OpenCL 1.2 and from my tests it is indeed working out fine. The Phoronix Test Suite OpenCL tests easily fired up using the Intel Ivy Bridge HD 4000 Graphics OpenCL implementation and worked without any issues.


I'll be working on getting out some proper Intel Beignet benchmarks in the next week or two, but for now if you want some basic numbers to compare against, I uploaded some basic results to 1408304-KH-IVYBRIDGE38 on OpenBenchmarking.org. (Of course, via some OpenBenchmarking.org magic, you can see roughly what the performance looks like stacked up against some dedicated GPUs... While there's obvious hardware differences, here's an example for those interested in Intel OpenCL Linux performance until I have my proper tests completed.

Overall, Beignet is turning out quite nice and I can't wait for it to be deployed out-of-the-box on some tier-one distributions (the first Linux desktop with great out-of-the-box OpenCL will probably be Fedora 21). Learn more about Beignet OpenCL at the FreeDesktop.org Wiki.
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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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