Parallel processing, the use of graphics processing units (GPUs) alongside standard processors to help speed up apps, has been growing steadily over most of the last ten years. It’s most common use in consumer applications (outside of gaming) has been Adobe Premiere where Nvidia’s CUDA (Computer Unified Device Architecture) technology allows Nvidia graphics card to help speed through the video rendering process.
But according to The Inquirer, the word is that the company is set to launch a new CUDA 5.5 ‘release candidate’, which will introduce for the first time support for Nvidia’s ARM processor. It also believes that while Nvidia hasn’t given a specific date for the release, it should be taken as a sign that up-coming Tegra processors will be CUDA ready.
The problem with CUDA is that its a proprietary technology that only works with Nvidia hardware. OpenCL is used by most other chip makers, including Intel and AMD, and is seen as a preferred option because of its open standard. CUDA has managed to gain good traction, however, through its support by Adobe in its Premiere 5.5/6/6.5 video editing software.
Anecdotal responses from developers suggests Nvidia’s software development tools are generally easier to use and better developed than some of the OpenCL software, which has also helped in its take-up. But overall, its generally seen that CUDA is better at some things while OpenCL is better at others.
It may be some time before we see any CUDA-ready apps turn up on Google Play. But its introduction may get developers thinking in general about parallel processing and harnessing the extra speed of the GPU that often remains dormant in many Android devices. And if the introduction of CUDA into ARM does that much, it won’t be a bad thing at all.
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