AMD goes open source with performance library

Software routines should help developers build multithreaded apps for x86 machines

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is making its performance library available as open-source code, which should help developers build multithreaded applications for x86 machines.

The three-year-old library contains more than 3,200 software routines that focus on specific functions, such as handling audio and video data, according to Margaret Lewis, director of commercial solutions at AMD. This is the first time that AMD has released a proprietary library set and released it as open source.

"This is one of our ways to help developers write software that runs really well, [and] taking a little bit of the headache out of it for them," Lewis told Computerworld. "A developer can write these functions himself, or use these to save time. We've spent a lot of time tuning [these routines] so the code runs faster and the developer doesn't have to write the routine and then optimize it himself."

The AMD Performance Library is now being called Framewave Version 1.0. It's immediately available for download at this site.

Since the routines are focused on x86 machines, that means they should work for both AMD-based and Intel-based systems. "They're well tuned to take advantage of our architecture, but they'll also run very well on our competitor's products," said Lewis.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc., said this should be welcome news to programmers working on multithreaded applications.

"This is good for the market because ISVs and developers can use all the help they can get in creating applications that efficiently utilize multicore processors," he added. Multimedia workloads will particularly benefit as they can be extremely power hungry in terms of processing cycles. Moving this code to open source makes it easy for developers."

But Olds noted that this also is a smart move for AMD.

"Think about the position AMD is in. Intel has them out-gunned on chip performance," he added. "This is a card that AMD can play to make it easier to developers to make stuff work better on AMD chips, which may defray Intel's performance lead a bit. It might also help them win more developer fans -- developers who say that their products work on both AMD and Intel, but might perform better on AMD processors."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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