Introducing gocl, a gobject wrapper to OpenCL

Posted by elima on May 06, 2013

For the past few months I have been working on this project to bring OpenCL closer to GNOME technologies, and today I’m glad to make the first public announcement. For the uninformed reader, OpenCL is a framework and language for writing programs that execute across heterogeneous HW pieces like CPUs, GPUs, DSPs, etc. While not applicable to any piece of software, OpenCL can unleash unparalleled performance and power efficiency on specific heavy algorithms like media decoding, cryptography, computer vision, big data indexing and processing, physics simulation, graphics, image compositing, among others.

Gocl is a GLib/GObject based library that aims at simplifying the use of OpenCL in GNOME software. It is intended to be a lightweight wrapper that adapts OpenCL programming patterns and boilerplate, and expose a simpler API that is known and comfortable to GNOME developers. Examples of such adaptations are the integration with GLib’s main loop, exposing non-blocking APIs, GError based error reporting and full gobject-introspection support. It will also be including convenient API to simplify code for the most common use patterns.

Gocl started as part of the work and research we do at Igalia on HW acceleration, that I decided to take a bit of, clean it up and release it in a way that can be useful to others. OpenCL is gaining relevance and popularity since the number of implementations and supported chips have grown significantly in recent years. Soon we are going to see OpenCL running anywhere and GNOME technologies should be ready to take advantage of it.

Full gtk-doc documentation is available, and source code is hosted at my GitHub account.

The API is very simple and limited at this stage, and should be considered very unstable. Although I’m not currently working on it full time, I do have kind of a roadmap for the API and features that I will prioritize:

  • Completing the missing asynchronous API
  • Adding API to query available OpencL extensions
  • Provide API to expose cl_khr_gl_sharing extension, for object sharing with OpenGL

You are welcome to suggest/request features that you would like to see in Gocl, as well as propose changes on the API. The GitHub issue tracking at project’s page is available for that, and also to report bugs.

So, do you know of a specific piece of software in GNOME that could potentially benefit from OpenCL? I would love to hear about it.

At Igalia, as part of our strong commitment to make the Web better and faster, we are already looking into ways of applying OpenCL to WebKit and its related technologies, and I’m personally interested on that line of work.


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  1. Matthias Mon, 06 May 2013 18:12:05 CET

    Very cool! One question: How does GI work even though you have the OpenCL typedefs as part of your API? AFAICT, you haven’t wrapped them up again.

  2. elima Mon, 06 May 2013 19:18:30 CET

    Matthias, the OpenCL typedefs that are part of the API, should be considered private and not used by applications, as stated in the documentation. They are not required for very simple OpenCL programs. However, for the moment and as the public API is yet incomplete, these objects are exposed and annotated as guint pointers for GI, because they might be needed in a fully functional program.

    But it is very likely that I will hide all typedefs and symbols that are not introspection friendly, in the near future.



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