Will my GPU be fully supported by Snow Leopard’s OpenCL?

According to reliable sources, if you own an Intel Mac other than the Mini or an original Macbook — either of which shipped with Intel’s GMA950 integrated GPU — then you are already good to go for support of the full range of OpenCL acceleration features.

If you have a Mac with the Intel GMA950, then you will get most of the benefits of OpenCL though the performance level of those functions will be significantly lessened due to the lack of dedicated graphics RAM and absence of support for many programmable GPU features that exist in other chips/cards going back to the ATi X1000 series.

To get that full support, GPUs as “old” as the ATi X1600, X1800 and X1900 (the latter of which was available for PowerMac G5s with PCI Express slots, based on the PowerPC 970MP dual-core processor while the former shipped in early Intel iMacs and its X1600M cousins in Macbook Pros) will do the job….but certain nVIDIA cards from the GeForce 7000 series, which shipped in iMacs and PowerMacs during the G5 era, most likely will not.

Older Macs and older GPUs will still technically support *some* OpenCL functions going back to the same first-generation AGP graphics cards that supported the original Quartz Extreme — but unless your GPU is a true “GPGPU,” capable of being programmed and made to perform a far wider range of functions by the host system than non-GP GPUs, those OpenCL functions won’t do all that much more than its predecessors QE and Core Graphics do on the same hardware.

We will hold out hope that engineers at Apple, ATI & nVIDIA will be able to implement at least some of the most beneficial OpenCL functions on graphics processors older than the models mentioned above. In any case, we will continue to cover this and all things Snow Leopard very closely….count on Mac OS Rumors to deliver all your Apple & tech dirt before anyone else, just as we have for 14 years and counting!

And, if you want the latest behind the scenes updates from the MOSR team, don’t forget to follow our official Twitter feed @MacOSRumors and the feed of our founder, Ryan C. Meader — @dalaixerces.

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  • Captain Obvious

    Keep in mind it took GPUs like the X1900 and G80 to make things like CUDA and OpenCL possible. So while I wouldn’t be surprised to see a software compatibility layer, and there may be some opportunity to accelerate some types of processing on older GPUs (expect Lattner and the LLVM crew to be working overtime on this), I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for great acceleration on the older GPUs.

  • Tom

    All quiet on the macosrumors.com front?

  • admin

    Granted our pace of updates hasn’t been up to par over the past couple of weeks — that’s because our publisher, the media arm of Xerces EverythingWorks has been engrossed in growth, hiring, and rebuilding efforts of which Rumors is only part….but we have some very exciting posts to make in the next few days, starting with a few that are in progress as we speak.

    Of course, if you’re looking for fast answers to small/simple questions you can try asking our site team via email, these Web comment threads, our Twitter accounts (@MacOSRumors or site founder Ryan C. Meader: @dalaixerces) or IM (AIM: MacOSRumors); if you have a more complex high-priority question, consider enlisting the professional services of Xerces Consulting who can give you the benefit of not-for-publication recon as well as our nearly 20 years as some of the leading experts in the Apple/macsector as we as countless other industries….

    All that said, the main bottleneck for us right now isn’t a lack of interesting dirt to report on — quite the opposite, and we’re well on our way to clearing financial hurdles; what we need most right now is a reliable, skilled team to handle the bulk of the writing workload.

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