Oracle seeks Java performance boost, joins HSA Foundation

Oracle, which has already been working with HSA Foundation on projects, finally becomes a member

Oracle has joined the industry consortium HSA Foundation, which is developing standards to make it easier for programmers to take advantage of GPUs and other processor types for faster code execution.

The Heterogeneous System Architecture Foundation is developing a set of open-source programming tools that will make it easier for programmers to harness the joint power of CPUs, graphics processing units (GPUs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and digital signal processors for better system performance.

Oracle wants to bring those "heterogeneous compute" capabilities to Java developers, too.

"Our work with the HSA Foundation will help provide Java developers with the ability to quickly leverage GPU acceleration, and explore how the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), as well as the Java language and APIs, might be enhanced to allow applications to take advantage of heterogeneous compute," said Nandini Ramani, vice president of development for Oracle's Java Platform, in a statement. Oracle acquired the Java platform when it bought Sun Microsystems.

The not-for-profit foundation was started last year by Advanced Micro Devices, Qualcomm, ARM Holdings and other companies. AMD has collaborated with Oracle on an OpenJDK project called "Project Sumatra," which will bring parallel acceleration to JVMs with Java 8, which will become available in March next year. Sumatra repurposes multi-core Java 8 APIs (application programming interfaces) called Stream or Lambda to enable processing on CPUs and GPUs, but it will need extra layers of code for parallel execution.

Ultimately, JVMs will get native support for parallel acceleration, which will reduce the need for extra layers of code. Native support for HSA's specifications in JVMs is expected with Java 9 in 2015, and Oracle is working with the HSA Foundation to reduce the overlays needed for Java to tap into GPUs and other co-processors.

HSA has released some specifications that pool memory resources and lower the overhead required in dispatching jobs to hardware for execution. HSA also is looking to create industry-standard parallel programming tools on top of existing standards like OpenCL.

Other new members include networking firm Huawei and Linaro, which develops ARM-based software for Linux distributions. U.S. government labs Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have also joined the consortium.

Intel and Nvidia, which offer their own parallel programming tools, are not members of HSA Foundation.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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