|By Lacey Thoms||
|March 13, 2016 09:00 AM EDT||
Researchers at Binghamton University recently became the first to create an open source graphics processor unit (GPU). The GPU they created, called Nyami, is appropriate for general purposes as well as graphics-specific work.
Nyami is significant in the research, computing and open source communities because it marks the first time open source has been used to design a GPU, as well as the first time a research team was able to test how different hardware and software configurations affect GPU performance. The results of the experiments the researchers performed are now part of the open source community, and that work will help others follow in the original research team’s footsteps. According to Timothy Miller, a computer science assistant professor at Binghamton, as others create their own GPUs using open source, it will push computing power to the next level.
GPUs aren’t new – they have been around for decades, and are typically located on the graphics cards found inside computers and gaming consoles. GPUs are specially designed to smooth out graphics and images and make them look more vibrant and realistic on the screen. Computer scientists today are experimenting with other uses for GPUs, including non-graphic processes, such as processing large amounts of data and running algorithms. The goal of the Binghamton researchers was to use open source to create a new tool, proving that the ability to experiment and test can push something long established to an entirely new level.
Open source software is particularly suited to fueling the kind of testing, creativity and experimentation required to push the boundaries in computing. In this case, researchers took something familiar and often-used, a GPU, and created something new. The modifications and experiments future hobbyists and researchers perform using open source will show how changes will act upon mainstream computer chips, and will ultimately result in advances for the greater good.
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