Friday, March 20, 2015

New software architecture

I’m clearly an amateur software developer. I can write some C code, have some experience with ancient .asp and php apps and know enough Linux to be dangerous. So, I don’t often write about software.

But there have been some recent developments that have caught my attention. Docker has been gaining traction the last couple of years and a relatively new software architecture is making some waves called "HSA".

Heterogeneous System Architecture is about efficiently combining multiple processors (CPUs, GPUs, DSPs and ASICs) into a single, virtual, processor. It’s basically a platform that exposes all of the underlying processors in a unified architecture.

Some 60 universities and technology companies have embraced the technology – including board members ARM, AMD, Qualcomm and Samsung (however, Intel, Nvidia and Microsoft are conspicuously absent…)

The “standard” has been under development for a couple of years, but has been getting more attention since the release of Version 1 this month.

In the more advanced versions of this architecture the hardware manufacturers include shared memory between the various processors (in current architectures, GPUs and CPUs have their own memory.) So, unless Intel and Nvidia get on board, this may be limited to ARM, AMD, et al.

Interestingly there are already containers available for running HSA on Docker.

Have you used this technology? What are your impressions?

"HSA-enabled integrated graphics" by Shmuel Csaba Otto Traian. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

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