Apple opened up its Grand Central Dispatch technology in Snow Leopard to the open source community on Friday. Grand Central is a feature in Mac OS X 10.6 that lets developers more easily take advantage of the horsepower multi-core processors, and Apple's move means the open source community can now roll the technology into other operating systems, too.
Releasing Grand Central Dispatch under an Apache open source license means could have several benefits for Apple. "Apple will of course reap the rewards of any development that takes place, just as they have with WebKit," Drew McCormack said on the MacResearch Web site. "Grand Central is more likely to be added to other UNIX and Linux systems, none of which really pose a threat to Apple's consumer-based business."
He added that the move could also help promote the blocks extension for the C programming language and make up part of Grand Central. "Having your operating system based on a non-standard language is not a good position to be in, and Apple would surely like to see blocks incorporated into the C language. By offering Grand Central to the broader programming community, they may be hoping it will catch on, and make the argument for incorporating blocks in the C standard that much stronger," Mr. McCormack said.
While Apple will likely benefit from making Grand Central Dispatch open source, others could reap the benefits, too. Once developers figure out how to work Grand Central into other operating system kernels, Linux and Unix users could see performance boosts in future OS updates, and that's good news for scientific researchers looking to squeeze as much horse power as possible out of their processors.