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The code generated by GZA uses the Compiler in the catalyst driver. This compiler is not the one that ships with CAL but is the graphics driver compiler, the CAL compiler uses a seperate version of the compiler that only supports a subset of the IL language tailored for Compute and specified in the il.pdf.
The sample_l instruction is the version of sample that guarantee's correctness when used in flow control. This is a known issue that the documentation is sparse in this area and we are working on fixing that.
Yes I know it's currently limited by CAL and that's why I am posting it as a feature request. Moreover, in the general compute world, single-channel data appears more frequent than the four-channel data usually used in graphics, IMO.
I hope that CAL could really unlock all the powerful features of the Radeon hardware. It is the reason I chose to stick with Radeon and it is the reason I switched from Direct3D/OpenGL to CAL.