Working group reconciles safety, hi-performance computing

Working group reconciles safety, hi-performance computing

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The Khronos Group is a circle of hardware and software companies with many well known names in it, like Cadence, Intel, Microsoft, or Nvidia. Through the launch of the Vulkan Safety Critical Working Group, the Khronos Group wants to make the advancements in GPU graphics and compute acceleration accessible to safety-critical industries.

Safety critical graphics are a key component for industries such as automotive, avionics, medical and energy. As display requirements become more advanced, safety critical graphics APIs must evolve to meet the industries’ needs. Earlier, Khronos has led the industry in developing graphics API standards for safety critical environments via its OpenGL SC Working Group, which released the OpenGL SC 1.0 specification in 2005, and the OpenGL SC 2.0 specification in 2016. Now, automotive and other industries are seeking advanced GPU graphics, compute and display functionality that can be deployed in safety critical systems.

In response to this industry demand, the Vulkan working group intends to create open, royalty-free API standards based on the existing Vulkan API specification to enable safety critical industries to utilize advanced graphics and compute acceleration. To best suit these market’s needs, the new API will aim to be compatible with industry standards for safety critical software, such as RTCA DO-178C Level A / EASA ED-12C Level A (avionics); FACE (Future Airborne Capability Environment) (avionics); and ISO 26262 ASIL D (automotive).

With its primary technical focus being safety critical graphics and compute, the group will design for graphics and/or compute systems where failure would cause a significant increase in safety risk, explained Khronos President Neil Trevett. The API may also expose common GPU functionality, including encoding and decoding of video bitstreams, display control, and the integration of graphics and video with platform window and display systems.

The design of a safety critical API is to some extend a contradiction in itself, because only complete systems can be certified according to generally accepted safety standards such as ISO26262 or DO-178C, Trevett explained. However, the design of an API can significantly affect time and cost of system certification. Therefore, the design goals for the Vulkan working group include reducing the driver size and complexity; ensure deterministic behavior, and robust error handling.

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