Developers have long been tantalized by the promise of accelerated computing, but fragmented programming models have held back its potential. Now, with the launch of the Unified Acceleration (UXL) Foundation this week, that could be changing.
The UXL Foundation is hosted under the auspices of the Linux Foundation's Joint Development Foundation (JDF). The new foundation is a consortium of industry stakeholders, including Arm, Intel, Qualcomm, and Samsung, with each vendor committed to the shared goal of establishing a universal standard for the development of high-performance applications across a wide range of architectures.
The UXL Foundation is not starting from scratch, but rather builds upon the success of Intel's oneAPI initiative, which has already made significant strides as an open programming model that spans different architectures.
The formation of the UXL Foundation represents the next phase in this ongoing effort, as a dedicated steering committee takes the helm to guide the implementation of the oneAPI specification across the industry.
"The oneAPI standard has witnessed significant growth as an open programming model for accelerators spanning different architectures including CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs," Rod Burns, UXL Foundation steering committee chair and VP of ecosystem at Codeplay Software, told ITPro Today.
How the Unified Acceleration Foundation Aims to Improve oneAPI
The UXL Foundation aims to unite the industry around an open standard and open source platform for developing software for accelerators such as GPUs using the governance frameworks adopted by the Linux Foundation.
Burns noted that members want to build the largest open ecosystem for accelerator computing, using the fundamentals of standards and open source. He explained that Linux transformed the software stack for CPUs using open source and standards-based projects, but the accelerator software stack is still evolving. Standards in some areas, especially AI, are still being defined.
"The industry needs to do for accelerators and GPUs what was done for CPUs, by bringing together both processor IP owners and software organizations using the fundamentals of neutral governance for collaboration and development within the UXL Foundation," Burns said.
The Roadmap for the Unified Acceleration Foundation
From a practical perspective, the foundation will govern a specification and a set of open source projects.
Burns said that the oneAPI specification and the open source oneAPI specification elements will be the initial starting point for the UXL Foundation. The primary output initially will be the specification releases, but the foundation expects to see more contributions to the implementation projects from other industry participants. The UXL's steering committee and working groups will define the foundation outputs, he noted.
"It is the job of the steering committee and the working groups within the UXL Foundation to build consensus around priorities, and these will be defined in the coming months and beyond," Burns said.
About the authorSean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He consults to industry and media organizations on technology issues.