So you are serious about work and want to know which Mac graphic cards and apps can leverage the power of OpenCL Mac. What’s that? OpenCL is a programming framework that can give applications access to the awesome processing power of graphics cards for non-graphical computing.
OpenCL is about crunching non-graphical data at tremendous speed by using the often underutilized processing power of compatible graphics cards and itt’s been built into every version of OS X since Snow Leopard.
And, according to Apple (list), there are 33 discrete graphics cards (i.e. not integrated) that are OpenCL compatible.
Interestingly, Apple says that Intel’s integrated HD Graphics HD 3000 and HD Graphics 4000 are also compatible, and Apple lists Macs equipped with these technologies, as well.
OpenCL Mac: Compatible Apps
The good people at OpenCL News have published a listing of all OpenCL compatible apps, where you will see many familiar faces. Hackintosh site tonymacx86 has parsed that and says Adobe PhotoShop CS6, Battlefield 3, Final Cut Pro X, GIMP, Handbrake, LuxMark, Mathematica 8 and VLC Media Player will all run better on your Mac due to OpenCL optimization.
Wait a second, Battlefield 3? That isn’t available for the Mac! True enough. However, if you play Battlefield 3 in BootCamp on a Mac with a compatible card, good things will happen.
Further, of the 33 OpenCL compatible discrete cards listed by Apple, three nVidia products — Quadro FX 4000, Quadro FX 5000, GeForce 8600M GT — are not Final Cut Pro X compatible.
These Battefield 3 and Final Cut Pro X wrinkles in the OpenCL fabric highlight an important point — if you want to get more out of your Mac by using OpenCL, you are going to need to bone up on this amazingly (FCP X) powerful technology (Mathematica).
OpenCL Mac In The Wild
For more OpenCL Mac info, then Khronos (keepers of the flame), Wikipedia and Heterogeneous Computing News have the resources to make your head explode.
Oddly, aside from the above compatibility list and a handful of press releases, Apple offers little public information on OpenCL. Which highlights another important wrinkle, both OpenCL and perhaps especially OpenGL seem to have languished in recent years.
With that in mind, I would very much like to see AnandTech, ArsTechnica or their ilk look into the current state of OpenCL on the Mac…
What’s your take?