The researchers and ubergeeks over at Anandtech have discovered undocumented OpenCL drivers on both the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10. I know a few folks out there just got a little bit excited, but for the rest of us OpenCL needs a little explanation.
The chip in your modern Android smartphone has both a CPU and a GPU (there's other stuff, but we're going to ignore it for now) on board. The CPU handles all the heavy lifting and number crunching, while the GPU sits mostly idle, with all it's high-speed cores doing a whole lot of nothing unless you're running a graphically intensive app.
OpenCL is a standard that puts all that untapped GPU power to use, allowing it to also crunch numbers and help the CPU along. Of course this is a simplified explanation, but it gets the general point across -- you can use the GPU to help do things faster, and use less battery to do it. It's a form of parallel computing that you find on new processors in modern desktop and laptop chips.
There's a few caveats here (isn't there always?) to keep in mind though. To start with, Renderscript is the parallel computing API officially supported in Android. OpenCL is likely there only because Qualcomm and ARM now officially support the API, not because anyone at Google requested it. Because of this, the drivers aren't likely to stay up to date or improved in any way. In fact, they could disappear in a future firmware update.
Of course, that's not likely to stop tinkerers and hackers from trying to use them. If that sounds like you, you'll want to head to the source link where you can read a little more about exactly what was found, and some source code to check it out yourself.
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