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Software tool boosts quad-core CPU performance

Posted: 07 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:multicore? software development tool? x86 processors?

RapidMind Inc. has launched the first version of its multicore software development tool to support x86 processors. The RapidMind Development Platform 3.0 can provide up to eight-fold performance boosts on quad-core CPUs on some applications, the company claims.

To date the company's tools have targeted graphics accelerators from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and NVidia Corp. as well as the Cell processor from IBM Corp. for a range of high-end applications in digital media, financial analysis and oil and gas exploration. The new version hopes to open the door to broader markets such as developers of database software.

"End users are definitely buying the new AMD and Intel processors and they are finding yesterday's software doesn't run any faster on that new hardware," said Ray DePaul, president and chief executive officer of RapidMind. "In fact in lots of cases existing code may even run slower because sometimes these multicore architectures are based on slower, simpler cores," he added.

So far only one company has committed to using the software. Masstech Group Inc. will use RapidMind to help speed its real-time video encoding software for high definition video in broadcasting applications.

Application developers can use existing tools to profile their programs and identify performance bottlenecks in their code. Those modules can then be linked to the RapidMind runtime through a C++ applications programming interface and library calls.

RapidMind automatically generates parallel code for array processing and other math functions. The RapidMind runtime software checks as many as eight areas for possible parallelism including memory access. The company has tested its new x86 version on as many as eight cores using two quad-core chips, showing results as high as ten-fold better than native code.

The x86 version is targeted at dual and quad-core processors such as the AMD Barcelona and Intel Core and Core 2 Duo architectures. The company charges a per-socket royalty based on the volume of shipments of applications that bundle its runtime engine. "We try to fit in the business models of our customers," said DePaul.

With the acquisition of PeakStream by Google in May 2007, DePaul said RapidMind currently finds itself virtually without a competitor. Peak Stream discontinued its line of parallel programming tools after the acquisition to focus on work for Google.

"We are standing by ourselves in the market now, but we don't expect to be that way for long. This is a well known problem and we expect others to emerge in this space," DePaul said.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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