RealTime IT News

RapidMind Eases Multi-Core Headaches

RapidMind today delivered a revised software platform for helping programmers write high-performance applications for multi-core processors as painlessly as possible.

While traditional programs written using C++ work fine for most single-core processors, multi-core chips pose more complex coding challenges. Moreover, vendor tools lock the application into a specific hardware platform.

RapidMind Platform v2.0 targets those dilemmas to let developers write software for chips such as the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E.) and graphics processor units (GPUs).

The platform allows developers to program in C++ using existing compilers and tools, and then "parallelizes," or distributes, data across many cores to boost the hardware performance. Also, applications created on RapidMind are hardware-independent and can scale to future multi-core chips.

The problem RapidMind targets is not a new one, but it's an issue that is increasingly more imperative to address with the proliferation of multi-core processors.

RapidMind President and CEO Ray DePaul, who helped bring the BlackBerry to market for RIM years ago, said that while processor speeds progressed over the last few decades, software "just went along for the ride."

When the processors couldn't get any faster due to power and heat dissipation, chipmakers turned to multi-core processors as a way to amp performance.

"There's a wonderful opportunity to leverage these processors, but frankly the industry has no idea how to take advantage of them," DePaul said. "Whether it's gaming or high-performance computing, everybody is having difficulty getting to those performance levels the multi-core processors theoretically have."

That's where RapidMind hopes to make its way in the programming world.

RapidMind partnered with multiple providers of multi-core processing platforms in creating the RapidMind Platform v2.0, including IBM, which pre-installs the RapidMind platform on Cell blade servers for its Virtual Loaner program.

The RapidMind platform v2.0 is available now, with a free developer edition available for download.

The platform supports Windows XP Pro Vista, Windows Vista and certain Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu and Yellow Dog flavors of Linux for the ATI x1X00, Nvidia Quadro and GeForce CPUs and Cell/B.E. hardware.

DePaul said RapidMind expects to eventually adapt its platform to let programmers write Intel and AMD multi-core chips; thanks to a $10 million venture capital funding round led by Ventures West Capital Ltd., the company expects to boost its R&D team to accelerate this mission.