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Apple Patent Provides Peek at Snow Leopard Technologies

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InformationWeek points out a few new Apple patent applications that were just filed and published which describe technologies that will likely appear in Apple's Snow Leopard (10.6) operating system.


http://images.macrumors.com/article/2008/10/24/112257-Picture 45_400.png

Snow Leopard promises to deliver improved Multi-Core processor and Mac graphics processor unit (GPU) support to applications. While all of Apple's Macs have moved to Multi-Core processors over the past few years, applications have been slow to take full advantage of the multiple cores due to the complexity involved. Similarly, most of Apple's Macs ship with advanced GPUs for improved graphical performance and these specialized processors could also be tapped for general computing purposes. With Snow Leopard, developers should be able to more easily take advantage of this existing hardware to improve the performance of their applications.

The patent application called Data Parallel Computing on Multiple Processors describes methods to accomplish the distribution of these tasks:
A method and an apparatus that allocate one or more physical compute devices such as CPUs or GPUs attached to a host processing unit running an application for executing one or more threads of the application are described.
In the patent application itself, the inventors describe that some of the GPUs may be connected in Scalable Link Interface (SLI) or CrossFire configurations. These terms describe the simultaneous use of dual GPUs as we have discussed recently.

InformationWeek points out that some of the inventors listed have previously worked at ATI. The patent documents also publish details under the "OpenCU" label:
This document describes an embodiment of an architecture, referred to as OpenCU (Compute Units), for parallel computing. The OpenCU architecture enables a data and thread parallel computing model and allows users to view a GPU or a CPU (single-or multi-core) as a data parallel compute device. The OpenCU specification describes an API and a programming language that can be used to create and manage parallel programs.
The "Apple Confidential"-labeled document (pdf) is publicly available for those more technically inclined.



Article Link: Apple Patent Provides Peek at Snow Leopard Technologies
 

FJ218700

macrumors 68000
Mar 8, 2007
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combined with Nehalem, the leap in performance will will be mind-blowing.

Looking forward to direct comparisons between OS X and Windows 7 Nehalem machines with identical graphics.
 
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840quadra

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Feb 1, 2005
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I can honeslty say that I looking forward to this release of OS X, than I did of the current release. I also hope that PowerPC isn't fully left behind, but time will only tell.
 
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ChrisA

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Jan 5, 2006
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I think the idea that is new here, that we don't see in the traditional threads libraries is a compiler included in the run time. Programs are written using a set of primitives that are compiled at run time for your specific set of hardware. This looks like it is suited to long running compute intensive tasks. Compilers really can take advantage of large parallelism by doing things like "un-rolling loops"

But the bottom line is that Apple will have to get programers to use this new interface. Simply making it available in Snow Leopard is not going to make Photoshop run faster. This is a long term thing. We might see applications that use it a year after it is released in Snow Leopard.
 
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Shadow

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Feb 17, 2006
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Anyone care to explain for us mortals what the hell that wall of text means?

Basically, it allows applications easy access to the computing resources provided by GPUs and multi-core CPUs. This is possible now, but its a bit complicated so developers don't really use it. The idea of this is that it makes writing applications that use these resources easier so more developers use it, increasing application performance :).
 
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guzhogi

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Aug 31, 2003
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combined with Nehalem, the leap in performance will will be mind-blowing.

Looking forward to direct comparisons between OS X and Windows 7 Nehalem machines with identical graphics.

I'd like to see this as well. Have 2 identically configured Nehalem Mac Pros side by side, one w/ Snow Leopard, the other running Windows 7. It'll be very interesting

But the bottom line is that Apple will have to get programers to use this new interface. Simply making it available in Snow Leopard is not going to make Photoshop run faster. This is a long term thing. We might see applications that use it a year after it is released in Snow Leopard.

I agree. While there may be some marginal improvement using the same version of apps b/c of updated OS-level stuff, apps will have to be updated to take advantage of all the new improvements. I'm sure a lot of apps will break w/ all the changes (especially those that enhance the Finder).

I'd really like to see what the Finder will be like when written in Cocoa. I'm a Select ADC member so I really hope I get a pre-release version.

There's a couple utilities/software I hope will be finished before Snow Leopard comes out so Apple can use them: CUPS version 1.4 & GCC 4.4. CUPS b/c I'm obsessed w/ it for some reason (I don't know why). GCC because it's a compiler & this new version looks like it'll add a lot of useful features. Also, full ZFS support! It's about time we transitioned to a newer, more advanced file system. Probably keep HFS until 10.7 (or whatever comes after Snow Leopard).

Basically, it allows applications easy access to the computing resources provided by GPUs and multi-core CPUs. This is possible now, but its a bit complicated so developers don't really use it. The idea of this is that it makes writing applications that use these resources easier so more developers use it, increasing application performance :).

+1 A lot of these technologies are really hard to develop for. Plus, at at least some level, it's kind of a chicken-and-the-egg problem. Hardware manufacturers don't want to make more powerful hardware b/c there's little/no software to take advantage of it. There's little/no software for it b/c there's little/no hardware. Just something I've noticed. Not sure how obvious it is to other people.
 
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pmw

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Oct 10, 2008
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Basically, it allows applications easy access to the computing resources provided by GPUs and multi-core CPUs. This is possible now, but its a bit complicated so developers don't really use it. The idea of this is that it makes writing applications that use these resources easier so more developers use it, increasing application performance :).

Now that I did understand!

Thank you!
 
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bobrik

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Apr 13, 2007
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Patent and Open?

Hmm, patent application for something supposed to be an Open standard (OpenCL, OpenCU)? How am I supposed to implement a technology marked as "Open" when Apple has patents for it? Seems like a contradiction to me (or at least good marketing BS).
 
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Romanesq

macrumors 6502a
Jun 16, 2003
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Need a smarty guy....

Basically, it allows applications easy access to the computing resources provided by GPUs and multi-core CPUs. This is possible now, but its a bit complicated so developers don't really use it. The idea of this is that it makes writing applications that use these resources easier so more developers use it, increasing application performance :).

Can anyone detail the improvements in this utilization with the new notebooks vs. the last generation Penryn version with the DDR-2 memory?

Sure folks would like to get some info on that.
 
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BornAgainMac

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I wonder if Windows 7 users will have anything like this? Windows 7 going to be Snow Vista or just a name change and some minor new icon / color tweaks?
 
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CWallace

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Aug 17, 2007
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Seattle, WA
Hmm, patent application for something supposed to be an Open standard (OpenCL, OpenCU)? How am I supposed to implement a technology marked as "Open" when Apple has patents for it? Seems like a contradiction to me (or at least good marketing BS).

Apple could be patenting it solely as it applies to OS X. After all, while OS X is built on a good bit of open source code, Apple still has patents all over the place to help keep it "in the family".
 
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bacaramac

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2007
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Little off track, but why is Pystar advertising at the bottom of this thread??? Wierd, just wierd.
 
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SomeTechGuy

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Oct 9, 2008
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So couple this news with the news yesterday about NVIDIA saying that the dual processors on the new MBP can work together at once. Can I therefore assume that Snow Leopard will more than likely take advantage of that hardware feature?
 
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Eidorian

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Mar 23, 2005
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Tiger and Leopard have quite a few unrealized technologies themselves.

I'm not going to praise Apple until I have applications that actually use the features they promote at WWDC.
 
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demiphonic

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Oct 21, 2008
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I wonder if Windows 7 users will have anything like this? Windows 7 going to be Snow Vista or just a name change and some minor new icon / color tweaks?

does anyone remember the amazing stuff that was SUPPOSED to go into Vista? Now it's just a shell of what it should have been & even the stuff we're left with doesn't work right. Took them 10 years to make that crap. Now 'Windoze 7' / ("Snow Vista" lol) supposed to be out soon? Honestly I don't think they will do anything good with that. & even if it is as stable as XP with some eye candy, it will not be close to Snow Leopard.

The new version of Windows should be "Eyesore" :p

but Honestly... wouldn't it blow your mind if they made something better than XP this time around? :eek: Good thing apple is always working so I have faith they will still beat the pants of em' even if MS makes a decent OS ;)
 
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gnasher729

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Nov 25, 2005
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But the bottom line is that Apple will have to get programers to use this new interface. Simply making it available in Snow Leopard is not going to make Photoshop run faster. This is a long term thing. We might see applications that use it a year after it is released in Snow Leopard.

There is one group of people who will love it from the start: Every scientist doing high performance computing. Get a MacPro (4 cores to keep it cheap), add four graphics cards, and have a very, very cheap supercomputer. The new MacBook Pro with a "spare" graphics card would be the perfect machine for developing.
 
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pismodude2

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Jan 22, 2008
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MacWorld
You know, Apple should really donate some money to saving snow leopards... If Snow Leopard isn't a free update, I'll buy it then.
 
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flottenheimer

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Jan 8, 2008
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...I also hope that PowerPC isn't fully left behind, but time will only tell.

In my eyes "Operation Snow Leopard" is all about optimization and trimming. With that in mind I really hope that there will be no PowerPC compatibility in SL. (Yes, I have both Intel and PPC macs in my home).
 
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guzhogi

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Aug 31, 2003
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Wherever my feet take me…
You know, Apple should really donate some money to saving snow leopards... If Snow Leopard isn't a free update, I'll buy it then.

That would be a cool idea! They could be like "For every copy of Snow Leopard we ship/sell, we'll donate $5 (or however much) to save snow leopards." Plus, Apple has how many $billions in the bank? So they can afford it.

In my eyes "Operation Snow Leopard" is all about optimization and trimming. With that in mind I really hope that there will be no PowerPC compatibility in SL. (Yes, I have both Intel and PPC macs in my home).

I agree, but there are a lot of people who disagree, especially considering how much more powerful a Power Mac G5 is compared to an original Core Solo Mac Mini. But there always will be those people who don't want to feel old. Heck, some people probably wish Apple still supported all procs from the 68000 days. If you don't know what that is, you're not a true Mac fan!
 
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