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Posted by Hemprasad Y. Badgujar on October 1, 2012


“The OpenCL specifications” by the Khronos Group

Format: PDF
File Size: 3.3MB
Digital: 377 pages
Price: Free
Publisher: Khronos Group
Author: Aaftab Munshi (Editor)
Published Date: 15 November 2011 (version 1.2, revision 15)
OpenCL-version: 1.2

As a specifications-document, you cannot expect a nice piece of prose, but most of the knowledge you need to know is in it. There are certainly some gaps (especially in clear explanation), but every version is getting better. When studying other sources, always have this document with you as a reference. I printed it as two pages per side (A4).

Read chapters 1 to 3, and leave the rest as a reference. Other books explain the long, long lists of language specifications in a nicer form. Also the most you’ll better learn by doing.

“The OpenCL Programming Book” by Fixstars

Two version available, the 1.0 version and the 1.2 version. To start with the 1.2:

Format: PDF
File Size: 3.2MB
Pages: 325
Price: USD 19.50
Publisher: Fixstars Corporation
Authors: Ryoji Tsuchiyama, Takashi Nakamura, Takuro Iizuka, Aki Asahara, Satoshi Miki, Jeongdo Son and Satoshi Miki. Satoru Tagawa (translator)
Published Date: January 2012
OpenCL-version: 1.2


Format: PDF
File Size: 3.49MB
Pages: 246
Price: free
Publisher: Fixstars Corporation
Authors: Ryoji Tsuchiyama, Takashi Nakamura, Takuro Iizuka, Akihiro Asahara, Satoshi Miki
Published Date: 31 March 2010
OpenCL-version: 1.0

1.0-version: It seems to be translated from Japanese to English, but except some small typos and spelling errors the book is very easy to read. The book explains the chapters you could skip in Khronos’ specifications-document, but certainly is not complete since it discusses OpenCL 1.0 and has a focus on the basics. The parts where that build up a program step-by-step is a bit annoying to read, because they repeat the whole program again while only a few lines have changed. The book would be more like 180-200 pages if written more compact.

1.2-version: Thicker, more up to date and a promise there are less translation-errors.

Full review later.

Heterogeneous Computing with OpenCL by Benedict Gaster, Lee Howes, David R. Kaeli, Perhaad Mistry & Dana Schaa

Format: print 
Pages: 400 (approx.)
Price: USD 69.95
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Authors: Benedict Gaster, Lee Howes, David R. Kaeli, Perhaad Mistry & Dana Schaa
Published Date: Sept 2011
OpenCL-version: 1.1

This is where we all chose OpenCL for: hybrid processors. And this book dives into that world completely, so we actually learn a lot new stuff about the advantages of having a GPU on your lap.

Full review later.

OpenCL in Action by Matthew Scarpino

Format: PDF and/or print
File Size: 8.1MB
Pages: 475 (approx.)
Price: USD 47.99 (e-book). USD 59.99 (p-book + e-book)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Matthew Scarpino
Published Date: non-final version updated regularly, target November 2011
OpenCL-version: 1.1

Just like the above book, “OpenCL in Action” is work-in-progress and you can read along. Matthew Scarpino also wrote SWT/JFace In Action and Programming the Cell-processor, has a profession in Linux and has much experience in IT. The book seems to target an audience who want a more practical guide to learn OpenCL.

Full review later.

“OpenCL Programming Guide” by Aaftab Munshi, Benedict Gaster, Timothy G. Mattson and Dan Ginsburg

Format: PDF and/or print
File Size: ??MB
Pages: 648
Price: USD 35.19 (e-book), USD 43.99 (print), USD 59.39 (bundle)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Aaftab Munshi (Apple, Khronos Group), Benedict Gaster (AMD), Timothy G. Mattson, Dan Ginsburg
Published Date: August 2011
OpenCL-version: 1.1
Homepage: and

Aaftab Munshi is also responsible for the OpenCL-specifications, so he probably knows where he’s talking about.

The 648 pages it is quite bigger than the targeted 480. Currently this is a very good replacement for Fixstars’ book. Disadvantage is that sending the printed book overseas (not USA/Canada) is much too expensive and people from the Eurasian continent, Africa and Latin America should just print it locally – looking into that to find better options.

Full review later.

“Programming Massively Parallel Processors” by David B. Kirk and Wen-mei W. Hwu

Format: Acid-free paper book
Pages: 258 pages
Price: USD 46.40
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Authors: David B. Kirk (NVIDIA) and Wen-mei W. Hwu (University of Illinois)
Published Date: 28 January 2010
OpenCL-version: 1.0

The book claims to discuss both OpenCL and CUDA, but actually there was a chapter added after most of the book was written and the focus is strong towards NVIDIA hardware. It is a nice book for people who need to learn to program CUDA-only software/hardware and don’t want a book that’s too hard to understand. There are assignments at the end of each chapter and important subjects are explained to the bottom, so you don’t need to have a hard time with those assignments. After you read the book you have learned that initialisation of OpenCL programs is tedious and know a lot about optimising kernels for NVIDIA GPUs.

It is not good for people interested in OpenCL-compliant architectures from AMD, ARM and IBM besides NVIDIA’s. It is one of the best resources to understand NVIDIA architectures from a view of a GPGPU-programmer.

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