Archive for the ‘HSA’ Category

Third Age of Computing?

Monday, August 26th, 2013

The ‘third era’ of app development will be fast, simple, and compact by Rik Myslewski.

From the post:

The tutorial was conducted by members of the HSA – heterogeneous system architecture – Foundation, a consortium of SoC vendors and IP designers, software companies, academics, and others including such heavyweights as ARM, AMD, and Samsung. The mission of the Foundation, founded last June, is “to make it dramatically easier to program heterogeneous parallel devices.”

As the HSA Foundation explains on its website, “We are looking to bring about applications that blend scalar processing on the CPU, parallel processing on the GPU, and optimized processing of DSP via high bandwidth shared memory access with greater application performance at low power consumption.”

Last Thursday, HSA Foundation president and AMD corporate fellow Phil Rogers provided reporters with a pre-briefing on the Hot Chips tutorial, and said the holy grail of transparent “write once, use everywhere” programming for shared-memory heterogeneous systems appears to be on the horizon.

According to Rogers, heterogeneous computing is nothing less than the third era of computing, the first two being the single-core era and the muti-core era. In each era of computing, he said, the first programming models were hard to use but were able to harness the full performance of the chips.


Exactly how HSA will get there is not yet fully defined, but a number of high-level features are accepted. Unified memory addressing across all processor types, for example, is a key feature of HSA. “It’s fundamental that we can allocate memory on one processor,” Rogers said, “pass a pointer to another processor, and execute on that data – we move the compute rather than the data.”

Rik does a deep dive with references to the HSA Programmers Reference Manual to Project Sumatra that bring data-parallel algorithms to Java 9 (2015).

The only discordant note is that Nivdia and Intel are both missing from the HSA Foundation. Invited but not present.

Customers of Nvidia and/or Intel (I’m both) should contact Nvidia (Contact us) and Intel (contact us) and urge them to join the HSA Foundation. And pass this request along.

Sharing of memory is one of the advantages of HSA (heterogeneous systems architecture) and it is the where the semantics of shared data will come to the fore.

I haven’t read the available HSA documents in detail, but the HSA Programmer’s Reference Manual appears to presume that shared data has only one semantic. (It never says that but that is my current impression.)

We have seen that the semantics of data is not “transparent.” The same demonstration illustrates that data doesn’t always have the same semantic.

Simply because I am pointed to a particular memory location, there is no reason to presume I should approach that data with the same semantics.

For example, what if I have a Social Security Number (SSN). In processing that number for the Social Security Administration, it may serve to recall claim history, eligibility, etc. If I am accessing the same data to compare it to SSN records maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it may not longer be a unique identifier in the same sense as at the SSA.

Same “data,” but different semantics.

Who you gonna call? Topic Maps!

PS: Perhaps not as part of the running code but to document the semantics you are using to process data. Same data, same memory location, multiple semantics.