"The other part is it is unifying the hardware and also software architecture. If you are writing in C++, you can say I want the GPU to execute it," McGregor said.
The specification also reduces the need to transfer data between memory, and that eases bottleneck issues, McGregor said.
AMD's Rogers said the specification recognizes multiple storage and networking interconnects, but did not say whether it would address nonvolatile storage units mimicking memory. Many server installations have solid-state drives as a form of cache in which data is copied and stored for a temporary period as a task is being executed. Facebook has floated the idea of using SSDs as a replacement for DRAM.
HSA Foundation backers also include ARM, Sony, MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung, Texas Instruments, LG Electronics, Imagination Technologies and ST Ericsson. Intel is not a member of the HSA Foundation and is using its own co-processors, compilers and programming tools to accompany its chips.
The idea of shared memory resources is also being chased by AMD rival Nvidia, which is not a member of the HSA Foundation. Nvidia next year plans to release a graphics processor based on the Maxwell architecture, which will unify GPU and CPU memory. The GPUs will be able to address CPU memory and vice versa, and applications will be easier to write with unified memory resources. Smartphones and tablets could get unified memory with Nvidia's upcoming Tegra 5 processor code-named Logan, which will have a graphics processor built on the Maxwell architecture and also support CUDA, which is Nvidia's proprietary set of tools for parallel programming.
HUMA is compatible with popular programming languages such as C, C++ and Python, and multiple operating systems, AMD said.