Intel, hardly a household name in software, has lately been building its software credibility in the developer community, especially among developers using its multi-core processors.
Intel's interest in developer tools is part of its wider interest in software as a whole. In recent months, the vendor acquired McAfee, and went live with its AppUp platform and announced a series of related business deals. Intel was also rumored to be creating a tool for developers to port Apple's IOS-based applications to other OS-based devices. Of the above software plays, the most notable was Intel's acquisition of security giant McAfee for about $7.68 billion.
Recently, the vendor rolled out a feature-rich update to one of its main developer tools, Intel Parallel Studio XE 2011, and unveiled Intel Cluster Studio 2011 for Linux and Windows.
Intel Parallel Studio XE combines Intel's C/C++ and Fortran compilers; performance and parallel libraries; error checking, code robustness, and performance profiling tools into a single suite.
The suite will help developers boost application performance and increase the code quality, security, and reliability needed by high-performance computing and enterprise applications, said James Reinders, director and evangelist for Intel Software.
"At the same time, the suite eases the procurement of all the necessary tools for high performance, and simplifies the transition from multi-core to many-core processors in the future," he said.
(Note on the difference between multi-core and manycore. Reinders said the current dual- and quad-core processors are generally referred to as multi-core, while future processors boasting more than 4 cores are known as many-core.)
Intel Cluster Studio helps developers to create, analyze, and optimize the performance of parallel applications for clusters using Intel 32- and 64-bit architectures.
The Cluster Studio combines Trace Analyzer and Collector, Intel Math Kernel Library (Intel MKL), Intel MPI Library, and IntelMPI Benchmarks. The Intel MPI Library focuses on making applications perform better on Intel -based clusters--implementing the high performance MPI-2 specification on multiple fabrics.
Reinders said the updated tools offer new capabilities for both C and Fortran developers.
For C developers, Intel has revised the Threading Building Blocks and the Parallel Building Blocks to make them feel more familiar to C developers, said Reinders.
The expanded threading options give developers multiple ways to exploit parallelism with a set of comprehensive parallel models, said Reinders. Those models support Intel Cilk Plus, Intel Array Building Blocks as well as Intel Threading Building Blocks, all of which are portable, scalable, reliable, and future proof.
The big change for Fortran developers is the addition of co-array, both node-level and distributed (via MPI), Reinders said, noting the new capability can support hundreds of processors sharing data in a co-array.
Parallel Studio and Cluster Studio support Windows Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (while still supporting 2005 and 2008), Eclipse, Windows 7, and the latest Linux distributions.
The compilers, analysis tools and libraries can be purchased individually or in bundles.
Both bundles include the VTune analysis tool, as well as Inspector XE, a tool for finding bugs in multi-threaded programs. Other features include: a static security analysis tool for tracking down problems such as unitialized data and buffer overflows; and updates to support the latest processors and processor features.
The prices for Intel Parallel Studio XE and Intel Cluster Studio vary, depending upon whether they include Fortran tools. With Fortran, bundles are $1,849 for Windows and $2,249 for Linux. Without Fortran, prices are $999 for Windows and $1,499 for Linux.
Commerical developers can test-run these tools for 30 days free. Open-source developers and teachers can obtain free tools for non-commercial use.