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Intel debuts new release of its oneAPI multi-processor software toolkit

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Intel Corp. today introduced a new version of its oneAPI toolkit, which enables developers to build applications that can run on multiple types of processors.

Many companies’ technology environments contain multiple kinds of chips. An organization might, for example, run its databases on central processing units and its artificial intelligence applications on graphics cards. Some companies also use more specialized chips, such as field-programmable gate arrays.

An application that can run on one type of chip isn’t necessarily compatible with another. Often, porting an application to a new processor architecture requires developers to make extensive code changes. The more chips a workload must support, the more code changes have to be made.

Intel’s oneAPI toolkit makes it easier to build applications that can run on multiple types of chips. According to the company, oneAPI reduces the amount of code that must be changed when an application is ported from one processor architecture to another. The result is that developers can complete software projects faster. 

The latest version of oneAPI that Intel debuted today features support for several of the company’s upcoming data center processors. It also provides improved compatibility with rival chipmakers’ silicon. 

According to Intel, the new oneAPI release supports its upcoming Sapphire Rapids series of server CPUs. The company’s recently introduced Xeon Max series is supported as well. The latter product line includes CPUs optimized for high-performance computing systems, most notably supercomputers.

Developers can now also use oneAPI to build applications for Intel’s upcoming line of data center graphics cards. The product line is headlined by the Max Series, a chip with more than 100 billion transistors. It comprises 47 chiplets,  or computing modules, optimized to run machine learning software. 

Some applications require the ability to run on GPUs from not one but multiple suppliers. To ease the development of such workloads, Intel is extending oneAPI with a collection of new software plugins. The plugins were developed by Codeplay Software, an Edinburgh-based company that Intel acquired earlier this year.

Developers use a programming language known as SYCL to write oneAPI applications. Code written in the language can run on multiple types of chips. According to Intel, the new oneAPI plugins will make it easier to write SYCL code that can run on Nvidia Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. graphics processing units.

Nvidia offers a software toolkit called CUDA alongside its GPUs. Companies use the toolkit to optimize the performance of their GPU-powered applications.

By default, CUDA-powered applications built for Nvidia chips aren’t compatible with other graphics cards. As a result, porting such applications to another chipmaker’s GPUs can involve a significant amount of work. To ease the task, Intel has updated oneAPI with features that will make it easier to turn CUDA-powered software into SYCL code that supports multiple types of graphics cards. 

Intel is also simplifying the development of GPU-based applications in other ways. As part of today’s update, the company has added a feature that can automatically perform roofline analysis of workloads. Roofline analysis is a performance evaluation method that helps developers find  ways of speeding up their software. 

“We’re seeing encouraging early application performance results on our development systems using Intel Max Series GPU accelerators – applications built with Intel’s oneAPI compilers and libraries,” said Timothy Williams, the deputy director of the Argonne National Laboratory’s computational science division. “For leadership-class computational science, we value the benefits of code portability from multivendor, multiarchitecture programming standards.”

Alongside the new GPU features, the latest release of oneAPI also includes several other enhancements. Intel has added improved support for OpenMP, an open-source tool used by developers to build applications that can run on multiple processor cores at once. Intel also enhanced oneAPI’s oneMKL component, which makes it easier to build applications that can perform complex mathematical operations.

Image: Intel

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