HSA Finalises 1.0 Specification for Power-Efficient Computing

The Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation has released the HSA 1.0 specification, bringing the technology industry one step closer to true heterogeneous computing on platforms spanning mobile devices, desktops, high-performance computing (HPC) systems and servers’.

HSA is an architecture that integrates the CPU and GPU on the same bus. Both are used for compute tasks, in parallel. The newly-approved specification includes elements designed to improve the programmability of heterogeneous processors, the portability of programming code and interoperability across different vendor devices. They include:

The HSA System Architecture Specification, which defines how the hardware operates;

The HSA Programmers Reference Manual (PRM), which targets the software ecosystem, tool and compiler developers;

The HSA Runtime Specification, which defines how applications interact with HSA platforms.

HSA 1.0 includes several features for the efficient implementation of languages such as C++, Java and Python on heterogeneous hardware. These enhancements are intended to make heterogeneous computing available to mainstream and mobile applications.

Mediatek was one of the first companies to produce mainstream heterogeneous applications, with SoCs such as the MT6589 and MT6785. Giri Amarakone of the company said, “HSA allows us to move to the next step of heterogeneous computing with the ease of conventional programming and superior power efficiency”.

Tim Leland, VP of product management at Qualcomm, noted that the company is developing new, low-power, heterogeneous computing technologies for Qualcomm Hexagon DSP, Adreno GPU and custom CPU micro architectures.