RapidMind Inc. today will roll out the first version of its multicore software development tool to support X86 processors. RapidMind Development Platform 3.0 can provide up to eightfold performance boosts on quad-core CPUs on some applications, the company claims.
RapidMind's tools to date have targeted graphics accelerators from Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia, as well as the Cell processor from IBM, for high-end applications in digital media, financial analysis, and oil and gas exploration. The company hopes the new version will open the door to broader markets, such as developers of database software.
"End users are definitely buying the new [AMD and Intel] processors, and they are finding yesterday's software doesn't run any faster on that new hardware," said Ray DePaul, president and chief executive officer of RapidMind (Waterloo, Ont.). "In fact, in lots of cases, existing code may even run slower because sometimes the multicore architectures are based on slower, simpler cores."
One company that has committed to using the RapidMind tool is Masstech Group Inc. (Toronto), which thinks RapidMind will help speed its real-time video encoding software for high-definition video in broadcasting applications.
Application developers can use existing tools to profile their programs and identify performance bottlenecks in their code. Those modules can then be linked to the RapidMind run-time tool through a C++ application programming interface and library calls.
The RapidMind software automatically generates parallel code for array processing and other math functions. The run-time software checks as many as eight areas for possible parallelism . The company said it has tested its new X86 version on as many as eight cores using two quad-core chips, with results as much as tenfold better than native code.
The X86 version is targeted at dual- and quad-core processors such as the AMD Barcelona and Intel Core and Core 2 Duo. RapidMind charges a per-socket royalty based on the volume of shipments of applications that bundle its run-time engine. Those rates range from as high as $1,500 per socket for an MRI system to less than $100 for a more high-volume application. "We try to fit in the business models of our customers," said DePaul.
DePaul added that with the acquisition of PeakStream by Google in May 207, RapidMind currently finds itself virtually without a competitor. PeakStream discontinued its line of parallel programming tools after the acquisition.
"We are standing by ourselves in the market now, but we don't expect to be that way for long. This is a well-known problem, and we expect others to emerge in this space," DePaul said.