Tim Sweeney: GPGPU Too Costly to Develop

Epic Games' chief executive officer Tim Sweeney recently spoke during the keynote presentation of the High Performance Graphics 2009 conference, saying that it is "dramatically" more expensive for developers to create software that relies on GPGPU (general purpose computing on graphics processing units) than those programs created for CPUs.

He thus provides an example, saying that it costs "X" amount of money to develop an efficient single-threaded algorithm for CPUs. To develop a multithreaded version, it will cost double the amount; three times the amount to develop for the Cell/PlayStation 3, and a whopping ten times the amount for a current GPGPU version. He said that developing anything over 2X is simply "uneconomic" for most software companies. To harness today's technology, companies must lengthen development time and dump more money into the project, two factors that no company can currently afford.

But according to X-bit Labs, Sweeney spent most of his speech preaching about the death of GPUs (graphics processing units) in general, or at least in a sense as we know them today. This isn't the first time he predicted the technology's demise: he offered his predictions of doom last year in this interview. Basically, the days of DirectX and OpenGL are coming to a close.

“In the next generation we’ll write 100-percent of our rendering code in a real programming language--not DirectX, not OpenGL, but a language like C++ or CUDA," he aid last year. "A real programming language unconstrained by weird API restrictions. Whether that runs on Nvidia hardware, Intel hardware or ATI hardware is really an independent question. You could potentially run it on any hardware that's capable of running general-purpose code efficiently."

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  • wild9
    Could someone please tell me what current GPGPU algorithm Tim Sweeney is referring to, and on what platform?

    How are most console games designed these days - single, multi-threaded? Cell optimised? Be nice to see some examples and how they fare against their PC equivalents, including the development costs. I was always under the assumption that games are processed in the following manner and regardless of platform:

    CPU Core(s):

    - Most of the game Engine
    - Most of the geometry
    - Most of all of the physics engine
    - All the AI

    GPU engines:

    - Some geometry, if possible
    - Some physics, if possible
    - All rendering
    - All lighting

    Is it really so expensive to develop code to run on a GPU, or is the (PC) market being held back by CPU manufacturers? What I mean is, if you have a title that isn't CPU-limited then why do you need to go out and spend £1,000 on an Intel i7? Wouldn't the hardware be cheaper to manufacture and draw less power, if the code GPU instead of CPU? Just think of the possibilities.
  • mactronix
    Tim sweeney is talking out of his arse.
    The last paragraph is almost funny, i pity the man if he thinks that its truly up to the game devs as to how the code is written. They will code in what ever API or programing code is prevelant or they will be restricting there target market significantly. Something they are not going to do trust me. This is why DX9 isnt dead yet. Most PC's can run DX9 so thats what they code for.Bigger target market =bigger potential returns its simple economics.
    As for your questions i would expect most console games to be Cell optimised (but im not 100% sure) and most PC games are still single thread optimised.
  • tinnerdxp
    Could Toms ban "zhuiqiuzy" ??? He's an obvious spammer...