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Archive for February, 2009
OpenCL is Available for the Masses
February 24th, 2009

It is healthy to use a technology that has competition and is accepted by open standards. Such is OpenCL.

"OpenCL (Open Computing Language) is a framework for writing programs that execute across heterogeneous platforms consisting of CPUs, GPUs, and other processors. OpenCL includes a language (based on C99) for writing kernels (functions that execute on OpenCL devices), plus APIs that are used to define and then control the heterogeneous platform. OpenCL provides parallel programming using both task-based and data-based parallelism [1]."

It is exciting to see NVIDIA and ATI/AMD has adapted it and the competition is on! It appears that OpenCL ready hardware from both NVIDIA  and AMD/ATI are available for the masses [2]. AMD announced the availability of FireStream 9270 and is being produced by Saphire [3]. It would be not long before Intel and IBM offer them as well. This is akin to the arrival of C++!

Reference

[1] OpenCL Definition
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCL

[2] The stream computing race is on - AMD FireStream 9270 is OpenCL-ready, faster than Tesla C1060
http://fireuser.com/blog/the_stream_computing_race_is_on_amd_firestream_9270_is_opencl_ready_faster_/

[3] AMD FireStream™ 9270 is OpenCL®-ready
http://www.khronos.org/news/permalink/amd_firestream_9270_is_opencl-ready/

http://www.hardwarezone.com/news/view.php?id=12647&cid=6

Accelerating Software Applications Using OpenCL
February 22nd, 2009

Processor performance over the past decade was achieved through a technique of  packing more transistors in a per unit area of a silicon. For a while there, it appeared that Moore's Law was unbeatable. However, transistors have gotten so small, they leak more current than they consume in an active state. This resulted in increased power utilization and extreme heat transfusion. This is when multi core idea came by. Instead of packing transistors, hardware manufacturers decided to pack similar processors in a chip. The idea is to have multiple instructions of a software execute parallely on this multi processors chips; known now as multi-core execution.

The idea was great until instructions themselves shared the result of a previously executed instruction or they shared memory. In such a case, one processor has to stall until another has done its job, making the execution on instructions sequential. This basically made the multi processor chip useless. Then came the idea of a vector processor.

"A vector processor, or array processor, is a CPU design where the instruction set includes operations that can perform mathematical operations on multiple data elements simultaneously... The math operations thus completed far faster overall [1]."

Using vector processor have become a standard for speeding up certain type of software applications. One wouldn't speed up applications such as a word processor or a power point presentation using vector processors. One wouldn't use vector processors to run an operating system either. However, certain applications such as 3D games saw immense performance gains.

The kinds of applications that can get tremendous performance gains are those that conform to a SIMD architecture (Single Instruction, Multiple Data). Basically any data hungry applications can benefit from vector processing. For example, KJAYA Medical, of Stamford, Conn accelerates their medical diasnostic advanced visualization application using vector processors and observes 30 times performance gain over standard CPU performance. Other applications that can benefit from vector processors include but not limited to video transcoding, financial modeling and facial recognition.

The cheapest of-the-shelf vector processors are in a form of a video graphics card meant to run games. For example, the latest graphics card 4870 from ATI/AMD costs USD$500 and provides 2.4 Teraflops of processing power. Similarly, NVIDIA has an offering with similar performance, the GTX 295. Intel is working on a product, code named Larrabee. The processor present in a graphics card is acrnoymed GPU to stand for Graphics Processing Unit. A discussion on a GPU architecture is well presented by Justin Hensley at Sigraph 2008 [2].

The question remains on how one would accelerate software applications using vector processors. Till end of 2008, the answer was to use gaming programming model such as OpenGL or DirectX. Also, graphics hardware vendors NVIDIA and ATI/AMD provided programming languanges such as CUDA and Brook+. PeakStream (acquired by Google) and RapidMind offered software development kit as an abstraction over multi core and vector processors. However, OpenGL/DirectX required that one knew 3D graphics programming, while the vendor specific languanges tools ran on proprietary systems. Apple Inc. being frustrated over this, conceived an open standard languange and proposed it to Khronous Group; OpenCL was born.

"OpenCL (Open Computing Language) is a framework for writing programs that execute across heterogeneous platforms consisting of CPUs, GPUs, and other processors. OpenCL includes a language (based on C99) for writing kernels (functions that execute on OpenCL devices), plus APIs that are used to define and then control the heterogeneous platform. OpenCL provides parallel programming using both task-based and data-based parallelism [3]."

Various reference exist on OpenCL regarding its intricate technical detail. Jason Yang presented recently at Sigraph 2008 [4]. Khronos Group has the version 1.0 specification available online [5]. Dr. Tim Mattson is interviewed on a web audio telecast [6]. 

NVIDIA and ATI/AMD have promised OpenCL implementations in as early as first quarter of 2009 [7].

This is a birth of a new programming paradigm that is going to shape the next decade.

References

[1] Vector Processor Definition
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vector_processor

[2] Presentation by Justin Hensley at Sigraph 2008 - Throughput Computing: Hardware Basics
http://xcellerated.com/community/presentations/hensley-gpu-architecture.pdf

[3] OpenCL Definition
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCL 

[4] Jason Yang presented an introduction to OpenCL at Sigraph 2008
http://xcellerated.com/community/presentations/yang-opencl-intro.pdf

[5] Khronos Group on OpenCL specification
http://www.khronos.org/opencl/

[6] Parallel Programming Talk - OpenCL with Dr. Tim Mattson
http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2009/01/21/parallel-programming-talk-opencl-with-tim-mattson/

[7] Press Release from Khronos Group, NVIDIA & ATI/AMD regarding OpenCL
http://www.khronos.org/news/press/releases/the_khronos_group_releases_opencl_1.0_specification/
http://www.nvidia.com/object/io_1228825271885.html
http://hothardware.com/News/AMD-Adopts-OpenCL-10-Specification


Intel Announces Intel Atom Brand for New Family of Low-Power Processors
February 17th, 2009

Intel’s Smallest Processor Built Using World’s Smallest Transistors Designed for New Internet Devices, Low-Cost PCs.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 2, 2008 – The Intel Atom processor will be the name for a new family of low-power processors designed specifically for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and a new class of simple and affordable Internet-centric computers arriving later this year. Together, these new market segments represent a significant new opportunity to grow the overall market for Intel silicon, using the Intel Atom processor as the foundation. The company also announced the Intel Centrino Atom processor technology brand for MID platforms, consisting of multiple chips that enable the best Internet experience in a pocketable device.

The Intel Atom processor is based on an entirely new microarchitecture designed specifically for small devices and low power, while maintaining the Intel Core 2 Duo instruction set compatibility consumers are accustomed to when using a standard PC and the Internet. The design also includes support for multiple threads for better performance and increased system responsiveness. All of this on a chip that measures less than 25 mm, making it Intel’s smallest and lowest power processor yet.1 Up to 11 Intel Atom processor die — the tiny slivers of silicon packed with 47 million transistors each — would fit in an area the size of an American penny.

These new chips, previously codenamed Silverthorne and Diamondville, will be manufactured on Intel’s industry-leading 45nm process with hi-k metal gate technology. The chips have a thermal design power (TDP) specification in 0.6-2.5 watt range and scale to 1.8GHz speeds depending on customer need. By comparison, today’s mainstream mobile Core 2 Duo processors have a TDP in the 35-watt range.

“This is our smallest processor built with the world’s smallest transistors,” said Intel Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sean Maloney. “This small wonder is a fundamental new shift in design, small yet powerful enough to enable a big Internet experience on these new devices. We believe it will unleash new innovation across the industry.”

With personal computing increasingly going mobile and the computer industry rapidly developing new classes of products to connect the next billion people to the Internet, the Intel Atom processor offers customers the unique ability to innovate around the new low-power design. In addition to the MID opportunity, Intel believes the demand for a new category of low-cost, Internet-centric mobile computing devices dubbed “netbooks” and basic Internet-centric desktop PCs dubbed “nettops,” will grow substantially over the next several years. The Intel Atom processor is perfectly suited to meet these new market segments.

Intel said the Intel Atom processor also has potential for future revenue opportunities in consumer electronic devices, embedded applications and thin clients.

Intel Centrino Atom Processor Technology
The Intel Centrino Atom processor technology brand represents Intel’s best technology for MIDs. Formerly codenamed “Menlow,” Intel Centrino Atom processor technology includes the Intel Atom processor, a low-power companion chip with integrated graphics, a wireless radio, and thinner and lighter designs. Together, these components are designed to enable the best mobile computing and Internet experience on these new devices.

Orbit Micro Products
Orbit Micro is now carrying a full line of Intel Atom based Single Board Computers (SBC) and motherboards, they can be purchased online. Orbit Micro is also now offering a line of Mini-PCs that are Atom based.  For more information click here.

Next-Generation Intel PC Chips to Carry Intel Core Name
February 17th, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 11, 2008 – Intel Corporation announced today that desktop processors based on the company’s upcoming new microarchitecture (codenamed “Nehalem”) will be formally branded “Intel Core processor.” The first products in this new family of processors, including an “Extreme Edition” version, will carry an “i7″ identifier and will be formally branded as “Intel Core i7 processor.” This is the first of several new identifiers to come as different products launch over the next year.

Products based on the new microarchitecture will deliver high performance and energy efficiency. This “best of both worlds” approach is expected to extend Intel’s processor leadership in future mobile, desktop and server market segments.

“The Core name is and will be our flagship PC processor brand going forward,” said Sean Maloney, Intel Corporation executive vice president and general manager, Sales and Marketing Group. “Expect Intel to focus even more marketing resources around that name and the Core i7 products starting now.”

The Intel Core processor brand name has gained broad awareness, preference, and market momentum over the past several years. The Intel Core name remains the logical choice for Intel’s latest family of processors. The Intel Core i7 processor brand logo will be available for high-performance desktop PCs with a separate black logo for Intel’s highest-end “Extreme Edition.” Intel will include processor model numbers to differentiate each chip.

Initial products based on this microarchitecture are expected to be in production in the fourth quarter of this year. These processors will feature Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, also known as simultaneous multi-threading, and are capable of handling eight software “threads” on four processor cores.

Core i7 processors can be purchased from Orbit Micro, online.

The i7 processor is also featured in Orbit Micro’s new Astro i70 workstation.  The Astro i70 supports a single Intel Core i7 processor, up to 24GB of DDR3 800/10661333 MHz memory, Intel X58 Chipset, up to 3x 3.5″ SATA II Drives with RAID support, dual Gigabit Ethernet controller, and supports ATI CrossFire technology. More information on the Astro i70 workstation can be found here.

POC-3174 Medical Panel PC
February 12th, 2009

Richardson, TX (February 2009) – Orbit Micro announces a medical grade Panel PC with built in UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) function. The built-in battery ensures reliable use in the middle of a power outtage and allows for data backup and management under sudden power shut-down situation, increasing redundancy for real-time medical record processing. The unique AUPS software facilitates real-time battery monitoring requirement. The network remote management software enables power control for each terminal POC-3174B from a central station, reducing the maintenance cost for the end user.

Features

• 17″ all-in-one medical panel PC
• High performance Intel Core 2 Duo CPU support
• Bult-in battery for UPS function
• Smart AUPS battery monitoring utility
• NetWork remote mangagement advantage
• User-friendly touch screen
KINO-9653 Intel Core 2 Duo Fanless Mini-ITX Motherboard with Dual VGA
February 11th, 2009

Richardson, TX (February 2009) – Orbit Micro announces the latest addition to its Mini-ITX Motherboard lineup, the KINO-9653.  The KINO-9653 features a very flat I/O design, only 300mm tall.  This makes for very slim case designs, that need to go into very tight places, like behind plasma TVs.

Features

  • Open frame and fanless ready thermal design
  • Socket P Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 800/667/533MHz FSB
  • Support dual-channel DDR2 533/667MHz up to 4GB
  • Single voltage 12VDC input with onboard DC power module
  • Support dual VGA, TV display output
  • Integrated Intel GMA X3100 high performance Graphic Core

The KINO-9653 features a very unique heatsink design that allows it to be fanless and very low profile.  However, the thermal solution is very flexible and if your application requires it, we can offer a low profile active solution.

The integrated heatsink has flexible screw mounting holes.  It features mounting holes compliant with VESA mounting standards ( 75mm x 75mm / 100mm x 100mm ) on the bottom of the enclosure.  Both sides feature mounting holes for side mounting or for a drawer design.

The KINO-9653 also features an all in one DC power design.  There is no longer a need for an extra DC power board or excess cables.  The KINO-9653 as an integrated DC to DC power module on boards, and supports a single voltage 12V DC input.  Customers can use an AC to DC power adapter to power the motherboard, or a direct 12VDC source, via a terminal block.

Buy the KINO-9653 Online

KINO-9653G-R10
Socket P Intel Core 2 Duo MIni-ITX Fanless Motherboard with Intel PCIe GbE LAN, Dual VGA, TV Out, 12VDC Input, SATA II

KINO-9653E-R10
Socket P Intel Core 2 Duo MIni-ITX Fanless Motherboard with Intel PCIe FastE LAN, Dual VGA, TV Out, 12VDC Input, SATA II

New Fanless Core 2 Duo Digital Engine – DEX4501
February 10th, 2009

San Jose, CA (February 2009) – Orbit Micro  announces the latest addition to its fanless X-Digital Engine flagship line for application computing in commercial-grade, ruggedized environments including digital signage, industrial control/automation and surveillance. The DEX4501‘s innovative cooling system optimizes heat dissipation so efficiently that the Digital Engine has no need for excessive heat “fins”. As a result, the DEX4501 retains sharp, sleek styling with 45nm performance in a form factor requiring only 2.4L.

partially recycled aluminum outer chassis
25W or 35W CPU + GM45
chipset and advanced
45nm microarchitecture
  • No Moving Parts (with SSD): Runs 24/7 with Silent, Cool Operation
  • Intel® GMA X4500 and Microsoft® DirectX™ 10 for full HD, true-3D and seamless motion
  • Socket P, Intel® Penryn or Merom up to 1066 MHz (supports 25W or 35W Core™ 2 Duo)
  • DDRII SO-DIMM 800/667 x 2 (up to 4GB)
  • Two MiniCard Slots: Supports TV Tuner (Digital/Analog) and more
  • Supports Draft-N Speed WLAN and Bluetooth® (exterior)
  • 40,000+ hrs MTBF and under 90W Power Consumption

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