Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Intel Releases Threading Library Under GPL 2 158

littlefoo writes "Intel Software Dispatch have announced the availability of the Threading Building Blocks (TBB) template library under the GPL v2 with the run-time exception — so this previously commercial only package is now open for all the use, whether for open-source projects or commercial offerings (although they are explicitly encouraging open source use). The interface is more task-based then thread-based, but with a somewhat different view of things than, e.g. OpenMP. From the Intel release: 'Intel® Threading Building Blocks (TBB) offers a rich and complete approach to expressing parallelism in a C++ program. It is a library that helps you leverage multi-core processor performance without having to be a threading expert. Threading Building Blocks is not just a threads-replacement library. It represents a higher-level, task-based parallelism that abstracts platform details and threading mechanism for performance and scalability.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Intel Releases Threading Library Under GPL 2

Comments Filter:
  • GPL 2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by raffe ( 28595 ) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:08AM (#19982835) Journal
    As the GPL 2 they link to says:
    "Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation"

    You can of course get it as GPL 3....
  • I'm glad to hear it (Score:5, Informative)

    by ookabooka ( 731013 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:13AM (#19982889)
    I attended a seminar about this at GDC (Game Developers Conference) this year. It is really nifty stuff, automatically parallelizes things for you and helps take the load off of the OS scheduler. It is also trivial to implement in many cases, for instance there are parallel loops that execute things in parallel, all you have to do is write it like a normal loop but use a different keyword (ok so it is a wee bit more involved, but you get the idea). If I recall correctly it is basically a thread-pool that manages scheduling itself better than the OS because it knows ahead of time the needs of the code. Also you don't have to know the # of cores or anything as it handles that transparently. Also it isn't limited to Intel processors, I'm pretty sure at GDC it was actually being demoed on some sparc machines. If I had the time and/or a reason to use it I would definately investigate further.
  • by ookabooka ( 731013 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:20AM (#19982945)
    Thats the thing, it makes programming easier by making the whole parallel thing a bit more transparent. Basically picture a foreach loop. This thing allows you to do the same thing but instead can do multiple instances of the loop at once and automatically uses the "optimal" number of threads based on the cores available, you just have to call parallel_for. It's not quite as simple as that but it certainly does take the grunt work out of parallelizing things.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:35AM (#19983099)
    Believe it or not, but there is nothing stopping you from declaring structs and classes inside a function.

    void main() {
        class local {
            public: void hello() { printf("hello world\n"); }

    Oh, and if you are worried about cluttering up "the namespace", that's what namespace MySpace { } is for :P
  • Re:GPL 2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:45AM (#19983205) Homepage
    The source explicitly says version 2. The "any later version" clause was left out.

    Threading Building Blocks is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation.
  • Re:GPL 2 (Score:2, Informative)

    by onecheapgeek ( 964280 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:49AM (#19983245) Journal

    Is the license 'GPL v2' or 'GPL v2 or later'?
    Version 2, Changed by RANDY SMITH on 7/21/2007
    Created by: RANDY SMITH
    GPL v2. Later versions will be reviewed, when final, for future consideration.

    No you can't.
  • Re:I'm thinking (Score:5, Informative)

    by hrieke ( 126185 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @10:49AM (#19983247) Homepage
    The AMD question was raised on their Forums, and there is no issues with TTB running on AMD CPUs.
    And, if there was, well it's under the GPL now, and I'm sure someone would have added / corrected that mistake.

  • Re:GPL 2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:02AM (#19983481)
    It depends on which version of the GPL you use. There's a 'runtime exception' version (That Intel chose for this project) that allows you MORE freedom than the LGPL in the case of libraries.

    Simply put, you can link in the code as a library without worrying about LGPL's library requirements. (Namely the need to be able to replace the library with an upgraded version.) Intel notes that this is necessary for C++ libraries because of the way they have to be linked.

    For the parent's code, I doubt he chose to have this clause in the GPL he chose, and it wouldn't be possible with his.
  • by Doctor Memory ( 6336 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:06AM (#19983541)

    it makes programming easier by making the whole parallel thing a bit more transparent
    I'd argue that it makes things more opaque, by abstracting away the need to explicitly deal with threads. Instead, you just define "tasks" that can run concurrently, and the toolkit takes care of mapping the tasks to actual threads.

    Agreed it does look to take a lot of the grunt work out of writing parallel-processing code. There are supposedly Java and .NET versions under development, it'll be interesting to see if they're able to implement the concepts as cleanly as in C++. My guess is both implementations will be a little "clunky" (cumbersome and less efficient).
  • GPL 2 only (Score:3, Informative)

    by oneandoneis2 ( 777721 ) * on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:14AM (#19983649) Homepage
    From the Development download src/tbb/Makefile:

    # Copyright 2005-2007 Intel Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
    # This file is part of Threading Building Blocks.
    # Threading Building Blocks is free software; you can redistribute it
    # and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
    # version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation.

    There's no "Or Later" in there. This is GPL v2 only.
  • Re:This and XEN (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:29AM (#19983875)
    No. Xen can only run on certain processes when using unmodified OS's (like XP since they don't have the source and can't modify it) because the older processes lack the hardware instructions required to make it possible. This threading library from Intel just makes it easier to write some multi-threaded software, it doesn't fix deficiencies in the VM support of older chips and of course nothing ever will.
  • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:29AM (#19983881)

    I know this comes as a great surprise, but the OSes and processors this runs on are limited []. If you want your programs to run on non-Intel platforms, or on any of the BSDs, I suggest you skip it and use something else.


    • Intel® Pentium® 4 processor
    • Intel® Xeon® processor
    • Intel Pentium D processor
    • 64-bit Intel Xeon processor
    • Intel® Core Solo processor
    • Intel Core Duo processor
    • Intel Core 2 Duo processor
    • Intel® Itanium® 2 processor (Linux systems only)
    • Non Intel processors compatible with the above processor


    • Microsoft Windows Systems
      • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
      • Microsoft Windows Server 2003
      • Microsoft Windows Vista
    • Linux Systems
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, 4 and 5 (when using Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 with Intel Itanium processors, operating system Update 2 or higher is recommended)
      • Red Hat Fedora Core 4, 5 and 6 (not with Intel Itanium processors)
      • Asianux 2.0
      • Red Flag DC Server 5.0
      • Haansoft Linux Server 2006
      • Miracle Linux v4.0
      • SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9 and 10
      • SGI Propack 4.0 (with Intel Itanium processors only)
      • SGI Propack 5.0 (not with IA-32 architecture processors)
      • Mandriva/Mandrake Linux 10.1.06 (not with Intel Itanium processors)
      • Turbolinux GreatTurbo Enterprise Server 10 SP1 (not with Intel Itanium processors)
    • Mac OS X 10.4.4 (Intel) or higher


    • Microsoft Visual C++ 7.1 (Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003, Windows systems only)
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 8.0 (Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, Windows systems only)
    • Intel® C++ Compiler 9.0 or higher (Windows and Linux systems)
    • Intel® C++ Compiler 9.1 or higher (Mac OS systems)
    • For each supported Linux operating system, the standard gcc version provided with that operating system is supported, including: 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.0, 4.1
    • For each supported Mac OS operating system, the standard gcc version provided with that operating system is supported, including: 4.0.1 (Xcode tool suite 2.2.1 or higher)

    P.S. Slashdot pulled out all the trademark symbols, and doesn't support the sup tag, so you'll just have to picture them in all the appropriate spots. :P

  • GPLv2 only (Score:3, Informative)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:30AM (#19983901) Homepage
    As near as I can tell, this is GPLv2 ONLY (without the "or any later version" clause). Checking a random source file in the distribution, there is no "later version" language present.

    This doesn't surprise me much, actually - I imaging Intel wouldn't want to commit their code to an unknown future license, and I expect they're still evaluating GPLv3. Even if they were done with that evaluation, the process for releasing this under v2 probably took a LONG time to complete - Intel is after all a large corporation. Restarting with GPLv3 probably would have just delayed it, although I suppose the only ones who would actually know that work for Intel.
  • by ray-auch ( 454705 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:46AM (#19984145)
    Erm, yes, C++ has local classes, however there is a "BUT" and it's a big one:

    Local classes / structs do not have external linkage and therefore can't be used as template arguments. So, for functors etc., which is precisely where you'd want something like a local class (ie. because you really want a closure), they are useless.

    Hence why we have Boost lambda. Expect, and I agree with the GP, the syntax ends up so horrible (due to the constraints of C++, not in any way the fault of the Boost devs) that you end up not using it. Not a lot of point in trying to do something because it is technically cleaner and neater if it ends up unreadable and therefore unmaintainable (for that, there is always Perl).
  • Re:Nice Offering (Score:2, Informative)

    by origin2k ( 302035 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @11:51AM (#19984245)
    Actually you can build commercial products using this new library, taken from their FAQ

    What is GPL v2 with the runtime exception?
    Version 1, Changed by RANDY SMITH on 7/21/2007
    Created by: RANDY SMITH
    GPLv2 with the runtime exception is the license under which the source code of libstdc++ is distributed (see html). This 'runtime exception' is therefore a standard for distributing template libraries - and that is why TBB uses it. .htm []
  • by ray-auch ( 454705 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @12:35PM (#19984905)
    Local classes are definitely standard, section 9.8 I think.

    Local _functions_ aren't in C++, but may be a GCC extension - which might be confusing you.
  • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @01:10PM (#19985425) Homepage
    That intel figured out that 5 percent market share mattered a whole lot when it's only a two player game, and it's running close. Obviously, if intel can control the entire *NIX world, AMD is in for some hurt.

    It is neither Linux nor Intel specific []

    Cross platform support:
    * Provides a single solution for Windows*, Linux*, and Mac OS* on 32-bit and 64-bit platforms using Intel®, Microsoft, and GNU compilers.
    * Supports industry-leading compilers from Intel, Microsoft and GNU.

    Threading Building Blocks supports the following processors:
    * Non Intel processors compatible with the above processors
  • But the thing is (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:06PM (#19986197)
    C++ (or C) is where all the fast code is still written. Thus it is the most relevant place for this kind of thing. If you look at Intel's page, you'll see they sell compilers, but only for two languages: C/C++ and Fortran. The reason is that their compilers are specifically to get as much performance as possible on an x86/x64 chip. So they target the languages people use when they are performance oriented. There are lots of other great languages out there, but face it, you aren't (or at least shouldn't) be using a managed language like Java when every last clock cycle counts.

    You'll find that this is rather evident in most games. While it is increasingly common to write large portions of the game in a scripting language since that make it easier to write and perhaps more importantly easier to mod, you'll find that the high speed stuff is still C++. Take Civ 4 for example. They wrote almost the whole damn game in XML and Python. All data (like unit definitions, technology tree, etc) is stored in XML files, all the scripting necessary to make them work is Python. Makes the game extremely easy to mod. However, the AI code, which they also released to end users, is in C++. The reason is that the AI is highly intensive and would have run too slow in Python. Also, the core engine of the game (not released to users) is C++ as well.

    So it isn't surprising this is where Intel is targeting their optimisations. Also, I'd argue that to a large degree any of this kind of thing for a managed language is the responsibility of the runtime itself. If Java is to have better support for automatically threading things, the JRE is probably where that should be done.
  • by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:42PM (#19986679)
    I compiled and ran the examples on my AMD system. They run without issue.
  • Re:PS3? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doctor Memory ( 6336 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:45PM (#19986725)

    Having just bought a shiny new 60gig PS3, this release makes me wonder just how easy it could be to take fairly good advantage of all the cores.
    That should be interesting, since the Cell is a non-orthagonal multi-core CPU (sort of like a PPC core with multiple AltiVec units). Opcodes for the main core (the PPE) are Power/PowerPC, while the satellite processors (the SPEs) run a vector (similar to the AltiVec or VMX) instruction set. I believe the PPE can also execute the vector instructions, so maybe it would be possible to just target that. I'm not sure how general-purpose those opcodes are, though, and since I don't believe the PPE has the SPE's complement of 128 registers, you might wind up to just supporting whatever register set the PPE has.
  • Re:GPLv2 only (Score:3, Informative)

    by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @02:55PM (#19986841)
    Thus, I expect that a court would find that Intel would be bound to the verbatim GPLv2 (which has "or any later version") unless they specifically say something of the kin of "modified GPLv2" wherever they mention the license they're using, and particularize the modifications prominently in their version.

    I would not. The verbatim GPLv2 states:

    If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.

    The verbatim GPLv2 does not prevent the licensor from specifying GPLv2, and programs licensed under "GPLv2" without "any later version" are expressly contemplated by the terms of the license.

    They would also be in violation of the GPLv2 by having modified the version they are distributing, contrary to the terms of the license for distribution.

    But they haven't.

    However, anyone with a copy of this existing version would seemingly have the GPLv2 license in its original glory (and hence GPLv3 may apply).

    And they do but it doesn't.

    I haven't looked at the details; this is based on what you've just said. It's very interesting.

    That is not an excuse. Your speculation concerning the terms of the GPLv2 had no basis in the grandparent's post.
  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @03:00PM (#19986907) Journal
    No, not FORTRAN IV, or even 77 . . .

    Fortran 90 and later already have the structures for this (Forall, etc).


    hawk, who hasn't written a line in over two years
  • by High Hat ( 618572 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2007 @04:28PM (#19987969)
    This is not quite correct. There is so-called OS-level threading, which you are referring to, and runtime or language-level threading, which is not managed by the OS. It is well possible that the latter is the case here, although I'm too lazy to RTFA...
  • by James_Intel ( 1082551 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @01:47AM (#19993055)
    We've been supporting Linux, Windows and Mac OS X for x86, x86-64 and Itanium processors in the commercial product for a year. And, yes, those include Intel and AMD processors. The commercial product information only lists those.

    The commercial product information quoted does not include some ports which were completed for the open source project only days before the open source release.

    Preparing for open source, we were able to get G5 for Mac OS X as well as support for Solaris and FreeBSD (both x86 and x86-64) working before releasing on Tuesday. It was tight - but they made it. I wasn't sure until the week before what we would have - but the team got them working. I think it will be easier now that the project is started - and we can let other join in to help us.

    I should also say we got a bunch more Linux distributions working for builds too. We have tested them enough to see no issues - but we haven't enough experience to call them supported on the product pages (commercial product). Please look for the latest ports on the open source project We'll work with anyone who has processors/system expertise and needs any advice we can offer. Understandably, we don't have a lot of non-Intel hardware inside Intel to test upon and we are hoping others can help a bit with that.

    For compilers - we have gcc, Intel, Microsoft and Apple (gcc in Xcode environment) compilers all working with the builds. It seems like we may have something to do for Sun's compilers and/or environment working - some Sun engineers are in touch and helping us double check this. No schedule - just working together - which I have faith will get results to put out in an updated open source copy in the not too distant future - non-binding wish - this is not a promise ;-) We're talking about what to do together to add SPARC support to - which shouldn't be too hard but will take some work.

    The biggest issues from processor to processor is knowing how to implement a few key locks, and atomic operations, best in assembly language. Since we have support for processors with both weak and strong memory consistency models - we know TBB is up to the task.

    TBB is very strongly tied to shared memory, and so a port to a Cell processor (or a GPU) would be a bit more challenging - but might be doable for the Cell. We've had only a few discussions/thoughts - no progress I know of figuring out a good approach there. That will almost certainly take someone with more Cell experience than we have at this time. I'm open to learning - but I'd need a teacher for sure.
  • by James_Intel ( 1082551 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @02:16AM (#19993187)
    Sorry - the requirements are more about the likely memory needed on a system for that OS + a C++ program, etc. In other words - have a system with 512M in general, not for TBB. This is confusing me now!

    TBB really has minimal requirements of its own... using TBB won't really change the memory needs enough to worry about it.

    I'll see if we can find a way to update the web page so it makes sense. Sorry for the confusion.

    The concurrent containers are much more scalable than those in STL - much more scalable. The queue, vector and hash table we provide are much better choices in a threaded application (with or without the other features of TBB) than using STL containers.

    The scalable memory allocator is definitely a gem. The library for it is completely separate from the rest of TBB - so definitely a good place to start if you have a threaded application which still calls malloc()

I am a computer. I am dumber than any human and smarter than any administrator.