AMD Launches GPUOpen – Refines Philosophy Into Two Tiers: CGI and Gaming and Professional Compute

Usman Pirzada
Posted Jan 27, 2016
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AMD has finally launched one of the biggest open source initiatives that it promised earlier in the form of GPUOpen. Building on one of its fundamental promises (open source), AMD’s GPUOpen promises to create the ultimate platform for game and graphic developers that will give them easy access to everything from dev kits to effect libraries. To quote Nicolas Thibieroz, one of the leading guys behind the GPUOpen project, GPUOpen “marks the beginning of a new philosophy at AMD” and is something whose roots can be traced back to Mantle.

AMD GPUOpen LaunchThe introductory image present on the site details the GPUOpen initiative. @AMD

AMD launches the GPUOpen initiative – marks the beginning of a new and open philosophy

GPUOpen was detailed by AMD when it was launched some while ago, but the new website, which can be found here, details the concept a bit further. The initiative is divided into two broad categories: one for CGI and Games and the other for professional compute. All of these things are driven by a multitude of initiatives combined together into a cohesive whole and will feature names that many of our readers will be familiar with: Liquid VR and so on. They also feature many names that our readers might not be familiar with, such as the new HIP tool. All this is one of many initiatives by the RTG this year and part of the revival of the raw enthusiasm that has been sadly missing from the Industry players these past few years. Although after the release of Mantle API things have been taking a decidedly upwards turn – and the culmination of the ideology that catalysed Mantle is GPUOpen.

GPUOpen – CGI and Gaming

The Gaming and CGI side of things includes the AO FX, Geometry FX, Shadow FX and Tress FX libraries which are all DirectX based open source assets for developers. Liquid VR – a very well known name in AMD SDKs is also included amongst other libraries like the AGS library. This initiative originally started as something to counter Nvidia’s GameWorks series of libraries – which are proprietary in nature and a black-box in terms of coding.  Since then, it has now evolved into something much more than its original idea – a complete definition of the ideology that AMD hopes to represent – the Open future.

GPUOpen – Professional Compute

HIP or Heterogeneous-compute Interface for Portability is a new tool which will convert any CUDA code to common C++ allowing it to be run through CUDA NVCC or AMD HCC compilers. Part of the GPUOpen platform this is basically a step forward in unwrapping the exclusivity the CUDA ecosystem enjoys. Ofcourse the professional compute side of things contains much more than just libraries – the GCN 3 ISA for eg has now extensive documentation as well for the ease of developers. And of course, no talk about AMD’s open source professional ecosystem would be complete without the HSA runtime – which is something that is budding in to one of the industry’s strongest platforms of the future. Given below is the official press release:

 

Today is the day we launch GPUOpen.

GPUOpen is composed of two areas: Games & CGI for game graphics and content creation (which is the area I am involved with), and Professional Compute for high-performance GPU computing in professional applications.

GPUOpen is based on three principles:

  1. The first is to provide code and documentation allowing PC developers to exert more control on the GPU. Current and upcoming GCN architectures (such as Polaris) include many features not exposed today in PC graphics APIs, and GPUOpen aims to empower developers with ways to leverage some of those features. In addition to generating quality or performance advantages such access will also enable easier porting from current-generation consoles (XBox One™ and PlayStation 4) to the PC platform.
  2. The second is a commitment to open source software. The game and graphics development community is an active hub of enthusiastic individuals who believe in the value of sharing knowledge. Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games.
  3. The third is a collaborative engagement with the developer community. GPUOpen software is hosted on public source code repositories such as GitHub as a way to enable sharing and collaboration. Engineers from different functions will also regularly write blog posts about various GPU-related topics, game technologies or industry news.

By Developers, For Developers

A critical design goal was to have GPUOpen created by developers, for developers, keeping marketing elements to a minimum. The creation of the Radeon Technology Group led by Raja Koduri was key in turning GPUOpen into a reality and I am very excited that this project is now being launched.

Today is the birth of GPUOpen and like any newborn it has some growing to do. As we add new content over the next few months we will be listening to developers feedback and respond as needed.

It’s time to open up the GPU.

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