Heterogeneous Systems Architecture Foundation Launches HSA 1.1 Specification with Multi-Vendor Architecture Support

Next Big Step Toward Pervasive, Energy-Efficient Heterogeneous Computing

Beaverton, Oregon, May 31, 2016 – The  Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation today released the HSA 1.1 specification, significantly enhancing the ability to integrate open and proprietary IP blocks in heterogeneous designs. The new specification is the first to define the interfaces that enable IP blocks from different vendors to communicate, interoperate and collectively compose an HSA system.

HSA is a standardized platform design supported by more than 40 technology companies and 17 universities that unlocks the performance and power efficiency of the parallel computing engines found in most modern electronic devices. It allows developers to easily and efficiently apply the hardware resources—including CPUs, GPUs, DSPs, FPGAs, fabrics and fixed function accelerators—in today’s complex systems-on-chip (SoCs).

With the introduction of multi-vendor architecture support and a range of other functional enhancements, HSA specification 1.1 advances the Foundation’s goal of bringing true heterogeneous computing to platforms including vision based IoT systems, mobile devices, desktops, high-performance computing (HPC) systems, AR/VR environments, and servers.

“HSA is increasing traction, with HSA compliant systems now in the market, an increasing number of developer tools available, and now the ability to leverage IP blocks from different vendors,” said HSA Foundation President Dr. John Glossner. “The HSA Foundation’s working groups have worked tremendously hard to bring about this latest specification, helping to usher in the next wave of computing innovation.”

“HSA is well on its way to becoming ubiquitous,” said Jon Peddie, president, JPR Research. “The trend will continue giving us increasingly powerful devices—from desktops to mobile to tablets—running at lower power. New multi-vendor support will enable easier integration of IP blocks from different vendors to help further grow the HSA ecosystem.”

HSA Specification 1.0, introduced in March 2015, marked a major breakthrough by defining a method for delivering highly integrated systems abstracting away specific processor complexities in heterogeneous designs.

In addition to multi-vendor support, key features of the new 1.1 specification include:

• More efficient interoperation: Greatly improved interoperation with graphics, cameras and other image processors, digital signal processors; and more efficient interoperation with non-HSA compliant devices

• A strict, formal definition of the HSA memory model which allows for well-defined language support that is at the forefront of the industry

• Heterogeneous system-level profiling capabilities with support for an architected event/timestamp model and performance evaluation enabling users to access hardware information for profile guided optimizations or analysis of user code in any language

• Quality of Service (QoS) improvements with better defined forward progress requirements

• Several run-time enhancements including the capability to wait on multiple signals

• Non-temporal memory access that allows infrequently used values to be removed from a cache efficiently

• A new open source LLDB-based debugger sponsored by Codeplay supporting kernels compiled using the open source CLOC compiler and the HSA assembler. All are available on the Foundation’s GitHub repository.

• High-level debug information being provided in an updated Finalizer code object

• Finalizer version support for specific application libraries

“Since its inception, HSA has offered and continues to offer a great deal of promise especially as we move into an era that will see many acceleration technologies come to market. This ability to create seamless integration of solutions regardless of the underlying hardware is paramount for the industry success. This release of the HSA specification represents the evolution of this strategy and brings the next set of capabilities needed to progress this vision.” said Patrick Moorhead, who leads market research firm Moor Insights & Strategy. “I anticipate a lot of interesting use cases, as solution providers find it easier to harness the power as these technologies come together.”

Supporting Quotes


“When AMD initiated the formation of the HSA Foundation in 2012, we joined with the other founding members to establish a new direction in computing. With the release of the 1.1 specification we take another step forward in that journey, delivering a first class programing experience that empowers programmers to leverage heterogeneous systems.”

-Greg Stoner, Senior Director, Radeon Open Compute, HSA Foundation Chairman of the Board


“ARM became a founding member of the HSA Foundation to ease the path for software developers to harness the benefits of heterogeneous processing. The initial focus of the ARM ecosystem on mobile platforms is now broadening to include emerging applications such as robotics and autonomous vehicles. To support that, ARM’s latest processor IP is designed to meet the new HSA standard.”

– Jem Davies, vice president of technology, media processing group, and fellow at ARM


“Heterogeneous architectures represent the future of computing across a wide range of applications. At Imagination we are pleased to have played a key role in developing the HSA specifications. The 1.1 spec provides many key new features. Importantly, it enables developers to write software that truly leverages the processing resources in today’s SoCs which invariably contain IP blocks from multiple vendors.”

– Tim Mace, Senior Manager, Business Development, Imagination Technologies


“HSA Specification 1.1 is a major milestone in bringing heterogeneous compute architectures closer to real-life semiconductor, OEM, and software product developers. Multi-vendor IP interoperability and streamlined memory models are cornerstone components to support further growth of the HSA ecosystem aimed at creating fast and power efficient parallel computing platforms of the future.”

– Alexey Rybakov, Senior Director, Embedded Systems, Luxoft


“The release of the 1.1 HSA specification represents an important milestone in advancing the heterogeneous computing technology. The first multi-vendor specification, which defines the interfaces for the IP blocks from different vendors to work together seamlessly, lays the foundation for the ecosystem to further collaborate and grow. MediaTek adopted a leadership role in the creation of this specification, and our future SoCs based on HSA 1.1 will enable increasingly powerful mobile devices for consumers globally.”
– Roy Ju, senior technical director, MediaTek

About the HSA Foundation

The HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation is a non-profit consortium of SoC IP vendors, OEMs, Academia, SoC vendors, OSVs and ISVs, whose goal is making programming for parallel computing easy and pervasive. HSA members are building a heterogeneous computing ecosystem, rooted in industry standards, which combines scalar processing on the CPU with parallel processing on the GPU, while enabling high bandwidth access to memory and high application performance with low power consumption. HSA defines interfaces for parallel computation using CPU, GPU and other programmable and fixed function devices, while supporting a diverse set of high-level programming languages, and creating the foundation for next-generation, general-purpose computing. See:  http://www.hsafoundation.com/



Neal Leavitt
Leavitt Communications
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