HSA Foundation Announces First Specification

Beaverton, OR, May 29, 2013 – The HSA Foundation has released Version 0.95 of its Programmer¹s Reference Manual. The HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation is a not-for-profit consortium dedicated to developing architecture specifications that unlock the performance and power efficiency of the parallel computing engines found in most modern devices. This is the first output from the HSA Foundation, who have been collaborating on this project since its founding in June 2012. It represents an important step in the development of the HSA Foundation¹s ecosystem because it enables software partners to develop libraries, tools and middleware and to code high performance kernels.

The Programmer¹s Reference Manual provides a standardized method of accessing all available computing resources in HSA-compliant systems. This enables a wide range of system resources to cooperate on parallelizable tasks. It has been specifically designed to perform in the most energy efficient way without compromising on performance. The goal is to enable a heterogeneous architecture that is easy to program, opens up new and rich user experiences and improves performance and quality of service, whilst reducing energy consumption.

The programming architecture detailed in the HSA Programmer¹s Reference Manual calls out features specifically exposed to programmers of the HSA architecture. HSA devices will typically include a broad class of devices, including GPUs and DSPs and support a number of key hardware features that enable easier developer programmability. These include shared coherent virtual memory, platform atomics, user mode queuing and GPU self-queuing.

These features, in conjunction with the correct software stack make programming all devices in an HSA architecture as easy as programming a CPU, and because of this, closer interlinking of processing on all devices is made possible. HSA abstracts away the native instruction set of the parallel processor through the HSA Intermediate Language (HSAIL). This language has been designed for parallel processing and can be translated on-the-fly to many native instruction sets, supporting innovations in different underlying hardware implementations through consistent HSAIL-compiled programs.

The HSA architecture also benefits existing APIs such as OpenCL and Renderscript through avoidance of wasteful copies, low-latency dispatch, improved memory model and shared virtual memory between all HSA devices. The HSA Foundation continues to work on the next specifications which will detail the hardware system architecture, run-time details and compliance requirements. See blog by HSA Foundation PRM Working Group Chair, Chien-Ping Lu, for a very personal and insightful commentary on the PRM odyssey and what it and HSA can mean to the community.


" Mediatek is a staunch supporter of heterogeneous system architecture and very pleased with the public release of HSAIL. Opening and standardizing the interface between CPU and GPU allows for parallel operation of these 2 key processors in mobile chipsets, and most importantly, creates portability of high-level software applications.”, said Mohit Bhushan, VP & GM, MediaTek.

“AMD is pleased to see that the HSA Foundation is strongly united around making it natural, easy and fun for programmers to utilize the capability of heterogeneous platforms and to innovate in creating modern application with tremendous performance at low power,” says Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, Heterogeneous Solutions, AMD

"ARM believes that we can tackle industry issues only by working together in partnership. ARM has collaborated with members of the HSA Foundation since early 2011 to help define standards for heterogeneous computing. This is the Foundation’s first publication and we hope that it is one of many steps forward towards realizing fully optimized applications,” said Jem Davies, vice president of Technology, Media Processing Division and Fellow, ARM. “The Manual enables many organizations to benefit from access to this information, which means that the software ecosystem will be able to create exciting new applications for a range of form factors and devices in energy-constrained systems.”

“Heterogeneous processing architectures represent the future of computing. As a founder member of the HSA, Imagination is delighted to play a role in driving APIs and tools that will help SoC designers create future computing platforms. The ratification of the HSAIL language specification is another step toward making heterogeneous processing usable by a far broader app developer community.” – Tony King-Smith, EVP Marketing, Imagination Technologies

“The latest version of the PRM by the HSA Foundation is an important first step in providing a standardized way to access a wide range of system resources. It will contribute greatly toward achieving higher system performance in smart devices.” — Dr. Seung-jong Choi, Senior Vice President SIC Lab, LG Electronics Inc.

“As a leading supplier of low power, multicore GPU technologies for smaller, faster, cooler products, we are pleased to contribute to Version 0.95 of the HSA Programmer’s Reference Manual. This milestone builds the foundation for heterogeneous architectures to be productized in leading silicon solutions that have the most stringent die area and low power requirements,” stated Wei-Jin Dai, President and CEO of Vivante.

About the HSA Foundation
The HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation is a not-for-profit consortium for SoC IP vendors, OEMs, Academia, SoC vendors, OSVs and ISVs whose goal is to make it easy to program for parallel computing. HSA members are building a heterogeneous compute ecosystem, rooted in industry standards, for combining scalar processing on the CPU with parallel processing on the GPU while enabling high bandwidth access to memory and high application performance at low power consumption. HSA defines interfaces for parallel computation utilizing CPU, GPU and other programmable and fixed function devices, and support for a diverse set of high-level programming languages, thereby creating the next foundation in general purpose computing.