Wednesday, May 29th 2013

HSA Foundation Announces First Specification

The HSA Foundation has released Version 0.95 of its Programmer's Reference Manual. The HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation is a not-for-profit consortium dedicated to developing architecture specifications that unlock the performance and power efficiency of the parallel computing engines found in most modern devices. This is the first output from the HSA Foundation, who have been collaborating on this project since its founding in June 2012. It represents an important step in the development of the HSA Foundation's ecosystem because it enables software partners to develop libraries, tools and middleware and to code high performance kernels.

The Programmer's Reference Manual provides a standardized method of accessing all available computing resources in HSA-compliant systems. This enables a wide range of system resources to cooperate on parallelizable tasks. It has been specifically designed to perform in the most energy efficient way without compromising on performance. The goal is to enable a heterogeneous architecture that is easy to program, opens up new and rich user experiences and improves performance and quality of service, whilst reducing energy consumption.

The programming architecture detailed in the HSA Programmer's Reference Manual calls out features specifically exposed to programmers of the HSA architecture. HSA devices will typically include a broad class of devices, including GPUs and DSPs and support a number of key hardware features that enable easier developer programmability. These include shared coherent virtual memory, platform atomics, user mode queuing and GPU self-queuing.

These features, in conjunction with the correct software stack make programming all devices in an HSA architecture as easy as programming a CPU, and because of this, closer interlinking of processing on all devices is made possible. HSA abstracts away the native instruction set of the parallel processor through the HSA Intermediate Language (HSAIL). This language has been designed for parallel processing and can be translated on-the-fly to many native instruction sets, supporting innovations in different underlying hardware implementations through consistent HSAIL-compiled programs.

The HSA architecture also benefits existing APIs such as OpenCL and Renderscript through avoidance of wasteful copies, low-latency dispatch, improved memory model and shared virtual memory between all HSA devices.

The HSA Foundation continues to work on the next specifications which will detail the hardware system architecture, run-time details and compliance requirements.

"AMD is pleased to see that the HSA Foundation is strongly united around making it natural, easy and fun for programmers to utilize the capability of heterogeneous platforms and to innovate in creating modern application with tremendous performance at low power," says Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, Heterogeneous Solutions, AMD.

"ARM believes that we can tackle industry issues only by working together in partnership. ARM has collaborated with members of the HSA Foundation since early 2011 to help define standards for heterogeneous computing. This is the Foundation's first publication and we hope that it is one of many steps forward towards realizing fully optimized applications," said Jem Davies, vice president of Technology, Media Processing Division and Fellow, ARM. "The Manual enables many organizations to benefit from access to this information, which means that the software ecosystem will be able to create exciting new applications for a range of form factors and devices in energy-constrained systems."

"Heterogeneous processing architectures represent the future of computing. As a founder member of the HSA, Imagination is delighted to play a role in driving APIs and tools that will help SoC designers create future computing platforms. The ratification of the HSAIL language specification is another step toward making heterogeneous processing usable by a far broader app developer community." - Tony King-Smith, EVP Marketing, Imagination Technologies

"The latest version of the PRM by the HSA Foundation is an important first step in providing a standardized way to access a wide range of system resources. It will contribute greatly toward achieving higher system performance in smart devices." - Dr. Seung-jong Choi, Senior Vice President SIC Lab, LG Electronics Inc.
"Mediatek is a staunch supporter of heterogeneous system architecture and very pleased with the public release of HSAIL. Opening and standardizing the interface between CPU and GPU allows for parallel operation of these 2 key processors in mobile chipsets, and most importantly, creates portability of high-level software applications," said Mohit Bhushan, VP & GM, MediaTek.

"As a leading supplier of low power, multicore GPU technologies for smaller, faster, cooler products, we are pleased to contribute to Version 0.95 of the HSA Programmer's Reference Manual. This milestone builds the foundation for heterogeneous architectures to be productized in leading silicon solutions that have the most stringent die area and low power requirements," stated Wei-Jin Dai, President and CEO of Vivante.
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11 Comments on HSA Foundation Announces First Specification

#1
NeoXF
Hah! Imagine a HSA tablet encoding a 4K HEVC video faster than a beefy x86 desktop workstation...
Posted on Reply
#2
james888
So hsa is actually usable now? I mean like the gpu does cpu work?
Posted on Reply
#3
tehehe
by: james888
So hsa is actually usable now? I mean like the gpu does cpu work?
No. You need compliant hardware.
Posted on Reply
#4
tehehe
by: NeoXF
Hah! Imagine a HSA tablet encoding a 4K HEVC video faster than a beefy x86 desktop workstation...
Thats not going to happen if you compare the same generation of hardware.
Posted on Reply
#6
theoneandonlymrk
by: tehehe
Thats not going to happen if you compare the same generation of hardware.
Dont dp and this gen does 4k, bring on the hsa goodness, also hsa will have compliance steps ie different levels of compliance steps so all hardware should see some benefit dependant on app and hardware , its not so much you have this tech but use what you have best.
Hsa = open source= all benefit
Posted on Reply
#7
tehehe
by: theoneandonlymrk
Dont dp and this gen does 4k, bring on the hsa goodness, also hsa will have compliance steps ie different levels of compliance steps so all hardware should see some benefit dependant on app and hardware , its not so much you have this tech but use what you have best.
Hsa = open source= all benefit
I am not against HSA or anything. HSA foundation work being open is great of course. Let's just not overhype it and wait for actual hardware and software that takes advantage of it.
Posted on Reply
#8
theoneandonlymrk
by: tehehe
I am not against HSA or anything. HSA foundation work being open is great of course. Let's just not overhype it and wait for actual hardware and software that takes advantage of it.
Fair enough I was trying to point out its not a hardware specific or even close and present hardware can have some benefit so its just software were waiting for.
Posted on Reply
#9
james888
by: tehehe
I am not against HSA or anything. HSA foundation work being open is great of course. Let's just not overhype it and wait for actual hardware and software that takes advantage of it.
I should of worded it better. What I meant was is there hardware that takes advantage of HSA where a gpu accellerates cpu work etc etc etc. Seems like the answer is kinda, and more is coming around the corner.

The reason I was curious was because I find this kind of computer very intriguing.
Posted on Reply
#10
Jorge
by: james888
I should of worded it better. What I meant was is there hardware that takes advantage of HSA where a gpu accellerates cpu work etc etc etc. Seems like the answer is kinda, and more is coming around the corner.

The reason I was curious was because I find this kind of computer very intriguing.
The answer is yes. Kaveri does HSA in style but Jaguar and Richland are the transitional predecessors to full implementation of HSA in hardware.
Posted on Reply
#11
james888
I want to see HSA in action now. Guess I have to wait for some full featured reviews.
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