Earlier this year, Maximum PC Editor-in-Chief Will Smith challenged Nvidia "to stop trying to convince us that closed APIs are good, and instead embrace OpenCL." Fast forward to today and the graphics chip maker still isn't ready to kill CUDA, but it did become the first to release an OpenCL driver and Software Development Kit (SDK) in pre-beta form. Nvidia says its goal is to solicit early feedback in anticipation of a beta release to be made available in coming months.
"The OpenCL standard was developed on Nvidia GPUs and Nvidia was the first company to demonstrate OpenCL code running on a GPU," said Tony Tamasi , senior VP of technology and content at Nvidia. "Being the first to release an OpenCL driver to developers cements Nvidia's leadership in GPU Computing and is another key milestone in our ongoing strategy to make the GPU the soul of the modern PC."
If you haven't been following along at home, OpenCL is short for Open Computing Language and is an open programming framework paving the way for developers to tap into the power of GPUs for general-purpose computing, otherwise known as GPGPU (General Purpose GPU). The open standard has the potential to work on most modern GPUs, and not just Nvidia hardware like the company's CUDA platform. But don't read this as Nvidia giving up on CUDA. On the contrary, Nvidia feels OpenCL reinforces the ideas behind CUDA, and has bumped up the CUDA release schedule to include three releases planned for 2009.