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HSA 1.1 Specification Bringing Heterogeneous Computing to Wide Array of Platforms
JUN 24, 2016 05:18 AM
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HSA Connections

HSA 1.1 Specification Bringing Heterogeneous Computing to Wide Array of Platforms


Paul Blinzer, AMD Fellow, AMD; Andrew Richards, CEO, Codeplay; Roy Ju, Senior Technical Director, MediaTek

Today's systems-on-chips (SoCs) are complicated amalgamations of multiple components such as CPUs, GPUs, DSPs, FPGAs, fabrics and fixed-function accelerators. Within each SoC, various open and proprietary IP blocks are integrated into one singular environment. Tying these unique components together into one streamlined SoC requires multiple (and distinct) toolchains, profiling methods and debug tools.


What is HSA 1.1?

The Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) 1.1 specification significantly enhances the ability to integrate open and proprietary IP blocks in heterogeneous designs. The new specification is the first to define the interfaces that enable IP blocks from different vendors to communicate, interoperate and collectively compose an HSA system. With the introduction of multi-vendor architecture support and a range of other functional enhancements, the 1.1 specification advances the HSA Foundation’s goal of bringing heterogeneous computing to platforms including vision based IoT systems, mobile devices, desktops, high-performance computing (HPC) systems, AR/VR environments, and servers.

What are some of the key features of the new 1.1 specification?

In addition to multi-vendor support, key features of the new 1.1 specification include:

• More efficient interoperation with graphics, cameras and other image processors via raw access and synchronization to image data in memory. Adding digital signal processor instructions to HSAIL; adding architected coarse-grain access and synchronization to memory for efficient data interoperation with non-HSA accelerators.

• A strict, formal definition of the HSA memory model which allows for well-defined language support and is at the forefront of the industry

• Heterogeneous system-level profiling capabilities with support for an architected event/timestamp model and performance evaluation, enabling users to access hardware information for profile guided optimizations or analysis of user code in any language

• Quality of Service (QoS) improvements with better defined forward progress requirements

• Several run-time enhancements including the capability to wait on multiple signals

• Non-temporal memory access that allows infrequently used values to be removed from a cache efficiently

• A new open source LLDB-based debugger sponsored by Codeplay supporting kernels compiled using the open source CLOC compiler and the HSA assembler. All are available on the Foundation’s GitHub repository.

Finalizer version support for specific application libraries

How Do We Adopt HSA 1.1?

The 1.1 specification can be applied to any HSA 1.0-compliant architecture without hardware changes, and it expands support from a single vendor to multiple vendors, which allows greater interoperation between both HSA-compliant and non-HSA compliant devices

The HSA Foundation began with the goal of solidifying hardware support, and the next priorities are focused on software optimization. As more platforms become available, such as the broad AMD Carrizo product stack within products from vendors including Dell, Asus and Lenovo, the Foundation expects the ecosystem to expand rapidly.

In short, the 1.1 specification is the most advanced heterogeneous computing standard available.

Dr. Jon Peddie, President of JPR Research, summed it up:

“The trend will continue giving us increasingly powerful devices – from desktops to mobile to tablets – running at lower power.  New multi-vendor support will enable easier integration of IP blocks from different vendors to help further grow the HSA ecosystem.”

Paul Blinzer,AMD Fellow, AMD

Andrew Richards, CEO, Codeplay

Roy Ju, Senior Technical Director, MediaTek

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