Google Doesn't Care About OpenCL on Android?
8/13/2013 by: Anshel Sag
In what appears to be a completely and utterly bizarre occurence, some user on the Google AOSP had requested that Google consider the possibility of integrating OpenCL into Android. The original post, found on Google's own Android AOSP forum stated that he would like to see OpenCL utilized as a feature of Android to give users choice of using OpenCL over Renderscript Compute, which is inherently proprietary. The user goes as far as to explain that even Nvidia said that they would support OpenCL, which leaves virtually no Android SoC vendor without support for OpenCL. He also speaks about the inherently cross-platform nature of OpenCL and how attractive it is for developers such as himself.
Following that, an AOSP project member from Google responds in a very matter of fact way that makes you question whether or not the AOSP is really about being open source at all since OpenCL is an open source compute standard. He states, "Sorry folks, but we are not re-opening this issue. OpenCL does not fit the needs of Android developers and actively contributes to platform fragmentation (something that we try to avoid at all costs). If you need "maximum control and speed", you should probably be pursuing custom hardware/software for your use-case."
Following that statement, more and more developers chime in about their support for OpenCL with no developers chiming in to say that they don't want OpenCL integrated into Android. Many developers chime in to mention that almost all of Google's hardware vendors are already shipping OpenCL drivers for Android, but native support would improve performance and compatibility. Following more people chiming in, and responding to some of them the Google employee says the most damning thing, "Ananth/Xerxes: Android has no plans to support OpenCL. There is really nothing more to discuss in this thread."
Following such a statement, many of the developers respond with shock and disgust at Google's unwillingness to work with developers on such an obviously important set of APIs for compute. Everyone that has an SoC shipping in Android is constantly improving their GPU performance and adding OpenCL functionality to improve overall performance as well as parallel compute. It just seems incredibly narrow-minded if not blatantly ignorant to suggest that OpenCL is not relevant to the future of Android. Because if Google isn't willing to support it, I have a feeling that Microsoft may. Maybe Google doesn't want to support OpenCL because it was a standard developed and used by Apple, but somehow I doubt that's actually the case.
Google's unwillingness to compromise and move towards a more open and desirable standard by it's own developers seems like an incredibly arrogant attitude towards software development. Not to mention, you really don't want to piss developers off in droves, because a lot of them will simply leave or start only supporting other platforms.
Google, Android, OS, Jelly Bean, OpenCL, Qualcomm, AMD, SoC, GPU, Compute, Open, Khronos
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