I regularly check the AMD Catalyst driver download page to see if a new driver version has been released by AMD. When I went there today I saw a second AMD Catalyst Package which I had never seen before. It was listed below the standard Catalyst Software Suite as AMD Catalyst Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) Technology Edition. The new driver package has a size of 92 Megabytes, roughly 17 Megabytes larger than the standard Catalyst Software Suite.
No information about the package are available on the page, except for the drivers that are included in the download. The AMD Catalyst Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) Technology Edition contains the standard display driver, ATI integrated driver and Catalyst Control Center just like the Catalyst Software Suite. It contains in addition to that the OpenCL Driver which is available as an individual download as well. The size of 16.4 Megabytes is exactly the difference in Megabytes between the standard driver package and the technology edition.
So what's OpenCL then?
OpenCL (Open Computing Language) is a framework for writing programs that execute across heterogeneous platforms consisting of CPUs, GPUs, and other processors. OpenCL includes a language (based on C99) for writing kernels (functions that execute on OpenCL devices), plus APIs that are used to define and then control the platforms. OpenCL provides parallel computing using task-based and data-based parallelism. Its architecture shares a range of computational interfaces with two competitors, NVidia's Compute Unified Device Architecture and Microsoft's DirectCompute.
OpenCL gives any application access to the Graphics Processing Unit for non-graphical computing. Thus, OpenCL extends the power of the Graphics Processing Unit beyond graphics (General-purpose computing on graphics processing units). OpenCL is analogous to the open industry standards OpenGL and OpenAL, for 3D graphics and computer audio, respectively. OpenCL is managed by the non-profit technology consortium Khronos Group. (via)
There aren't a lot of applications for standard users. ATI's developer showcase shows a lot of scientific programs though. Currently, it is safe to say that the OpenCL driver is not needed by the majority of users. This might change in the future.
Do you have additional information about the AMD Catalyst Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) Technology Edition or the OpenCL driver? Let everyone know in the comments.
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