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First WebCL Demos Arrive From Nokia and AMD

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the heading-toward-the-singularity dept.

Firefox 48

An anonymous reader writes "Samsung and Nokia have released initial implementations of WebCL for web browsers. Nokia's version works with Firefox 4 and AMD's App SDK on Windows Vista/7 32-bit and Samsung's version on Mac OS X 10.6.7 with Safari and Nvidia OpenCL GPUs. The implementation has little to no use for average users, but there are a couple YouTube videos that showcase the horsepower of GPUs in physics computations — inside a browser window."

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48 comments

Firefox 4? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36662012)

Way to target an obsolete, unsupported browser!

Firefox 4? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36662042)

Why did they built their initial implementations on a browser that is outdated, unsupported, and insecure?

Re:Firefox 4? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36662102)

Maybe they're targeting the enterprise, who won't be upgrading to Firefox 5 for another year or so.

Re:Firefox 4? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662136)

Maybe because they had to develop for a moving target. Blame mozilla's handling of version numbers for minor updates not the people who have to develop despite of this stupid every update is a major version number.

Not a security hole at all... ;-) (4, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662082)

Take a look at ticket #1 [nokia.com] on the Nokia OpenCL plugin. Arbitrary code execution anyone? The security issues with WebGL are massively overblown, but WebCL seems to be a different matter entirely.

Re:Not a security hole at all... ;-) (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662672)

I am not sure you can draw such a clear distinction. WebGL allows arbitrary GLSL shader code to execute on your GPU in much the same way as OpenCL.
The fact that GLSL is intended to process graphics doesn't itself provide any guarantees that is all it can be used for.

Re:Not a security hole at all... ;-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36666310)

GLSL code that's quite easily statically analyzed for known weakpoints and stopped from uploading. Flash presents a far more severe long-term security problem. Net winner: WebGL.

Re:Not a security hole at all... ;-) (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#36667060)

GLSL is a fairly restrictive language lacking things like pointers. The verified subset of it that WebGL allows is even more restrictive. OpenCL is basically C with a few minor limitations to make it more GPU friendly. Oh, and WebCL allows this code to be executed on the CPU, not just the GPU.

When I talked about arbitrary code execution, I didn't mean it in the bullshit sense the anti-WebGL articles used - I mean the traditional definition, arbitrary code execution with access to the full privileges granted to your web browser.

Re:Not a security hole at all... ;-) (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36666184)

Honestly, and I hate to do this since I haven't agreed to a damned thing they have done since the sweaty monkey took over, I think MSFT may be right on BOTH WebGL and OpenCL when it comes to security and here is why:

What is the most buggy driver on the average Windows system? Why that would be the graphics driver. Which driver is the LEAST likely to be updated? Again that would be the graphics driver. Which piece of hardware gets the least security checks because it would slow it down? Which piece of hardware thanks to the unified driver arch can take down tens of thousands of machines with a single buffer overflow? I think you get the idea.

ActiveX was a seriously Forest Gump level of stupid and this? Right up there alongside it. This is an idea which will have little to NO benefit for end users, increased risks of infection, and for what? So some browser can go wobbly windows like the average Linux distro? Yeah that's worth the huge increased risk.

Thanks to DXVA and H.26x support on even the low end GPUs released today there is already a trivial way to accelerate video. All this will do is give Windows and Linux users something in common, a nice single target for malware writers. It is a DUMB idea, greatly increases risk for the end users and for what? So you can run a game in a browser? The Asian MMOs have been doing that for ages by having plug ins and a mix of native and web code, and frankly the security there isn't very great there either.

So if someone can explain how having a device with a super fast CPU of its own, at least 256Mb of super fast RAM of its own, and with the most buggy and least likely to be updated drivers access to running untested or vetted third party code off the net I'm listening. Oh and with today's firmware it would probably be pretty trivial to flash in a loader that makes sure the payload is loaded upon startup. Nice for the malware writers, not really seeing a point for my end users here.

Re:Not a security hole at all... ;-) (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 2 years ago | (#36666336)

Honestly, and I hate to do this since I haven't agreed to a damned thing they have done since the sweaty monkey took over, I think MSFT may be right on BOTH WebGL and OpenCL when it comes to security and here is why:

What is the most buggy driver on the average Windows system? Why that would be the graphics driver. Which driver is the LEAST likely to be updated? Again that would be the graphics driver. Which piece of hardware gets the least security checks because it would slow it down? Which piece of hardware thanks to the unified driver arch can take down tens of thousands of machines with a single buffer overflow? I think you get the idea.

ActiveX was a seriously Forest Gump level of stupid and this? Right up there alongside it. This is an idea which will have little to NO benefit for end users, increased risks of infection, and for what? So some browser can go wobbly windows like the average Linux distro? Yeah that's worth the huge increased risk.

Thanks to DXVA and H.26x support on even the low end GPUs released today there is already a trivial way to accelerate video. All this will do is give Windows and Linux users something in common, a nice single target for malware writers. It is a DUMB idea, greatly increases risk for the end users and for what? So you can run a game in a browser? The Asian MMOs have been doing that for ages by having plug ins and a mix of native and web code, and frankly the security there isn't very great there either.

So if someone can explain how having a device with a super fast CPU of its own, at least 256Mb of super fast RAM of its own, and with the most buggy and least likely to be updated drivers access to running untested or vetted third party code off the net I'm listening. Oh and with today's firmware it would probably be pretty trivial to flash in a loader that makes sure the payload is loaded upon startup. Nice for the malware writers, not really seeing a point for my end users here.

Bull shit. That's it. Pure Bull shit. The iframe is sandboxed in WebKit. Canvas is sandboxed in WebKit. How the hell do you cite WebGL and OpenCL and somehow fail to mention OpenGL? Utter bull shit. I could careless about Windows. This concerns OS X, iOS, Linux, Android and others. Enjoy DirectX11 and it's competitors to OpenCL, WebGL and WebCL. They will lose.

Re:Not a security hole at all... ;-) (1)

DaVince21 (1342819) | more than 2 years ago | (#36670016)

Which driver is the LEAST likely to be updated? Again that would be the graphics driver.

And yet the graphics driver is the one thing I see updated so much more often than, say, my sound card driver or any other driver for any other hardware on my PC whatsoever.

Huh? (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662142)

Guess I must be out of touch with the bleeding edge. What's the "new" thing here... that it works in a browser window?

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662214)

It's an important step for the web. Previously, buggy crap from advertisers could only peg your CPU at 100%. Now it can also peg your GPU at 100%. The war on battery life is nearly won!

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36664924)

You INSISTED on having those ads shown to you. A thousand times were you told to use AdBlock, or STFU. if you have a will of your own, it's a fact, that you always deliberately chose to continue watching those ads.

So STFU!

Bitcoin? (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662190)

According to Nokia, WebCL can be used for Bitcoin mining - in which case WebCL is good for real world earnings of about $10 per day - at least as long as the Bitcoin currency remains intact.

Seriously Nokia, first you're trying to sell your handsets by using Windows [slashdot.org] , and now Bitcoin?

Re:Bitcoin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36662306)

Visit my webpage with WebCL and mine bitcoin for me!

Re:Bitcoin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36662398)

That could work well if it was a flash games site. You could even remove the banner ads.

Re:Bitcoin? (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662416)

good for real world earnings of about $10 per day - at least as long as the Bitcoin currency remains intact.

Iif you create a web page which does Bitcoin mining in the background while displaying something else, you may be able to get people to do the computation for you.

Bitcoin will probably tank before WebCL gets going. Bitcoin was supposed to be a transactional currency for micropayments. Instead, it's become almost entirely a speculative market. Bigcoin fans are franticallly "mining" and trading, but no major retailer accepts Bitcoins. Bitcoins are now so volatile that pricing anything in Bitcoins is hopeless. (Today's range is $12.40 to $15.00 per Bitcoin.)

Without significant usage as a currency, it's not a currency. It's a pyramid scheme. About $100,000 worth of new Bitcoins are generated each day, and to keep the price up, the scheme needs $100,000 of new sucker money each day. Lately there's been a sucker shortage, and the price has been declining.

Re:Bitcoin? (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662522)

Careful, you'll have the bitcoin cultists, and federal reserve conspiracy nuts after you. And they have mod points.

Re:Bitcoin? (1)

Zanadou (1043400) | more than 2 years ago | (#36679736)

Iif you create a web page which does Bitcoin mining in the background while displaying something else, you may be able to get people to do the computation for you.

Already been done: via java http://bitcoinporn.tumblr.com/ [tumblr.com] (NSFW - as if the URL doesn't warn you)

And via WebCL, although it's closed now: http://kradminer.com/ [kradminer.com]

API style (1)

bmuon (1814306) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662292)

The functionality is awesome. But the API is too Java-like. Someone make it more JavaScript friendly please!

Re:API style (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663040)

I hope to fucking christ you're joking... the only reason I wouldn't use this is because I need to use JavaScript. If browser companies would push something other than JavaScript in browsers this would be 1000% better. Hell, add support for Assembly and I'd prefer it over JavaScript. (Note: I did web development for a while after college before I got a job doing Java/JOGL graphics)

Re:API style (1)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 2 years ago | (#36664262)

Sounds like you need to do your JavaScript development in a different language then... Check out GWT (Java) or Emscripten (LLVM)

Why does my browser need webCL now? (2)

sea4ever (1628181) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662452)

My browser is meant to render HTML pages. At least, that's what I'd like my browser to do.
I know that there are people who like lots of bells and whistles, so it's nice to have javascript and all of the other nifty additions to browsers, even though I turn them all off or just use w3m.
Now openCL..sure, there's a niche for it somewhere and someone will want it. I think that this is tremendously unnecessary now, though. At which point does the trend for unnecessary bells and whistles go too far?
Will the browser have the capability to subvert my entire operating system by the time someone says 'Ok, we're done. We bring you the final release.'


This actually reminds me a bit of emacs, but a bit different still as emacs is not exactly visually oriented. This browser feature-war now revolves around the ability to display video, render pretty images and use phenomenal amounts of CPU and now GPU power for something that should sit idle 99.99% of the time, and spend the rest of the time drawing an informative web page.

Re:Why does my browser need webCL now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36662606)

shutup gramps

Re:Why does my browser need webCL now? (1)

advance-software (1770510) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662806)

real-time physics. you guys are so backwards it's like stepping into a museum. yeah mod me troll. webgl is totally fine btw. the worst it can do is lock up a shader. amd hardware has vpurecover so that's covered. not sure about cl - does it support arbitrary pointers if so could be a problem. need to be able to lock it down to only be able to access a configurable chunk of memory then should be fine too. go ahead and whine about invisible scary monsters.

Re:Why does my browser need webCL now? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662912)

They have to come up with all kinds of useless features so that Firefox can add the latest and greatest new feature - a "freeze" button to stop all computation on a web page.

Actually... can I have one of these please?

Re:Why does my browser need webCL now? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663130)

because somewhere along the history it was deemed that it's stupid to build browsers so that they load .cpp's, compile them and then run them -which would be amazingly convinient and something ms shot for so long time ago-, so you need some way to run fast code natively which pretty much compiles stuff to native and runs them.. kind of like a logical escape from a logical barrier invented few years ago? couldn't they just collectively buy out flash and put all this silly stuff in it? or implement virtualbox to run stuff inside browser windows?

an interesting question though is how come nokia which has struggled with producing a decent browser for so long is doing a webcl implementation for _windows7_? yes they did commission or build and sell for a while a netbook, but that was on intel hw? (the funding and contracts jungle that lead to this must be pretty dense). oh well, maybe they got some guys there who thought that pyramid3d was _the_shit_ instead of being a shit pyramid- combine webgl and this could lead you to be able to do the same as what you could done half a decade ago with shockwave)

Re:Why does my browser need webCL now? (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 2 years ago | (#36666356)

What's the reason? To offload the heavy lifting to the GPGPU so you can leverage all that OpenCL provides to the compiled native executable can only aid in the myriad of Javascript coding that currently bombards the CPU that could easily be passed onto the idle GPU(s).

Already out of date (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36662508)

Since Firefox 4 is now obsolete it makes this announcement seem a dated. See, Mozilla, this is why you should support major releases for more than a few months.

I don't get it (2)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662652)

Why does everyone seem to want to do everything in a web browser these days. I want to use my web browser for browsing websites. If I want to edit photos I would prefer to run a photo editing program in another window rather than piknik or similar in a web browser. If I want to work out pi to a million places, I might run superpi (or watch wierd al on youtube I guess). If I want to play a game, I don't want to do that in a web browser, either.

Folks seem to understand this when it comes to phones; as apps are being made to replace web pages all the time. Why are they doing the opposite on more capable desktop systems?

Re:I don't get it (2)

The O Rly Factor (1977536) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662764)

It allows folks at work to circumvent just about every single software installation policy in existence just by simply navigating to a website, so that way they can play their farmville and their angry birds instead of getting things done. This behavior translates right on over to their home machines, since installing software is a confusing and terrifying experience for the computer users too incompetent to even know what a filesystem is (omg registry settings are getting changed a commercial once told me they're bad i am so confused?). Path of least resistance I guess.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662820)

It allows folks at work to circumvent just about every single software installation policy in existence just by simply navigating to a website, so that way they can play their farmville and their angry birds instead of getting things done.

It also allows them to get things done without waiting three weeks for someone from IT to respond to their requests to install the software they need, or to patch their software to current versions, or to give them access to the various directories that they require.

Re:I don't get it (1)

f()rK()_Bomb (612162) | more than 2 years ago | (#36662866)

because it is very obvious that we are moving very much towards browser orientated systems. for normal people this is a very good thing, you dont need to install anything, just start playing, easily move from your pc, to your laptop, to your phone, without hassles of copying work or saves. can you really not see how useful that is?

Re:I don't get it (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663098)

My point was we are moving in the opposite direction on the phone (and even some other devices). Things that used to be done in browsers are being moved to "apps". The mobile market is moving away from browsers, the desktop market is being dumbed down into browsers.

Not that I am saying I would like running software in a browser if mobile wasn't moving away from browsers, but it would at least make sense if things were moving in a consistent direction.

Re:I don't get it (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663222)

except Microsoft (who'd have thought!) is embracing the 'app as a mini-browser' with Windows 8 and it's html+js GUI based model.

I know a few mobile apps are practically browsers - the data seems to be pulled from the server all the time (ie plenty of 'loading...' forms are shown).

Re:I don't get it (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663354)

Have you browsed any books for mobile development recently at a B&N? My Andriod books are mostly devoted to HTML 5 with a few bits of java code to make it an actual applet. I think HTML 5 is going to the be the new gui framework standard whether we like it or not.

Samsung show casing MacOSX?? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#36663376)

I thought Samsung and Apple hate each other? I can see the love with their injunctions on each others products and lawsuits galore.

Re:Samsung show casing MacOSX?? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#36666280)

As most other big companies, they have a love/hate relationship. Keep in mind that Samsung supplies screens for all those iPads...

If you can somehow take this seriously.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36663572)

.. then dont.

Web is useful for centralising the storage and processing of data. Why the fuck would distributing computation to javascript in a browser make any sense other than a featureset to circlejerk over.

About fucking time the web 3.0 boom dies. Web 2.0 we can almost say was meaningful (only for the scant few innovations) but the tech being presented is more like flash - terrible tech, useless for what you want unless you butcher and/or COTS and worst of all it's designed around creating a market position for a few companies.

Seriously, take this shit elsewhere.

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