ATI/AMD GPU support in FAH, and what awaits with Core 16

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The project team is currently working on improved support for AMD and ATI GPUs. Originally, the Brook programming language was used to program on GPUs, but AMD have decided to support just OpenCL and drop all support for Brook. This has meant that the core has had to be completely rewritten to use OpenCL instead of Brook. This was a huge challenge, but that project is now bearing fruit (see the OpenMM site for more information). Because of AMD's decision to abandon support for Brook in favour of OpenCL, future developments of the AMD/ATI core will be made for OpenCL only, and will only run on graphics cards that support OpenCL.

This means that some currently supported cards will drop out of the project, as follows:
  • HD2xxx and HD3xxx series do not support OpenCL and thus will not be supported once FAHcore 11 is mothballed.
  • HD4xxx series is able to execute OpenCL code but lacks some hardware features necessary to make the new code run at an efficient speed, and so will also not be supported by the new core.
  • HD5xxx and HD6xxx series support the full range of necessary OpenCL functions, and will be fully supported by the new core.

In the short term, both FAHcore 11 and FAHcore 16 will be used in parallel so as not to leave people in the lurch. Unfortunately this situation cannot last forever, and support for FAHcore 11 is scheduled to end on September 1st 2011. This date may be postponed, but there is no guarantee that will happen. Stopping support of a platform is obviously never a popular decision, but in this instance the project has been left with little choice due to AMD ending support for the older cards.

The good news is that AMD/ATI is heavily involved in supporting OpenCL and the Pande Group are very excited by the prospects of the new core. This core will be released publicly after the release of the v7 client, which is necessary to run the new core.

Source : Vijay's blog