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Friday, June 20, 2008, 03:25 pm PT (06:25 pm ET)

Apple mulls GPGPU and iChat; UK stores without contract iPhone?

Apple has potentially tipped its hand through a job posting and revealed iChat as the first known app to use OpenCL with new video cards. Also, British Apple stores may be forced to sell iPhone 3G as prepay-only due to their current sales methods.

Job listing points to general-purpose GPU use in iChat

Although Apple has made clear its intent to build support for general-purpose graphics processing units (GPGPUs) into Mac OS X Snow Leopard with its awareness of NVIDIA technology and its hopes to formally ratify OpenCL as an industry standard, a new posting for a position at the computer giant's Cupertino campus may point to one of the first practical applications of the technology in its software.

An entry for a Senior Software Engineer at the company asks for a recruit who is familiar with video conferencing and cross-platform programming but who is also ideally aware of GPGPU technology, suggesting that the company may use the more generalized nature of new video chipsets to handle tasks in iChat or other communication programs that aren't directly related to conventional image processing.

While the nature of any possible additions isn't mentioned in the listing, an earlier post searching for multiple software engineers specifically mentions a GPGPU engineer who would help develop libraries for calculating physics, signal processing, and similar tasks.

Apple's UK retail to be limited to prepaid iPhone 3G?

British buyers looking for iPhone 3G on July 11th might need to shop beyond Apple if they want the fully subsidized pricing, according to statements made by an O2 spokeswoman to Mobile Today.

At the moment, UK Apple stores don't have a way to check customer credit on-site and haven't trained staff on how to register customers on contract plans. The limitation would all but require Apple's own stores to offer iPhone 3G as a prepaid device that could cost £350 in the country.

While the original iPhone was activated at home and so didn't require that Apple retail staff activate phones themselves, the need to activate on location potentially shuts out Apple's current sales system and may require that sign-ups for term-based plans — and the accompanying heavily discounted iPhones — take place at Carphone Warehouse and O2 locations.

Despite the added business it would bring to O2's direct outlets, the wireless carrier says it's cooperating with the iPhone maker to allow in-store activations for either company, though there's no indication as to whether it will be ready for launch on July 11th.

"We are currently working closely with Apple to enable them to issue contracts in store," the spokeswoman says. "Full details are still to be confirmed."