Chips Pt.3 (BERI, Do we need separate Hardware Construction languages? OpenTransputer) – London 18/06/2015

Tue, Jun 2nd 2015 19:10 Posted by Andres Baravalle

The BCS OSSG and the OSHUG are hosting 3 talks on Open Source Chip Designs.

The event will be held on Thursday 18th June at BCS HQ – 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

This event is free to attend for both BCS Members and non-members but booking is required.

Note: Please aim to arrive by 6:15 as the event will start at 6:30 prompt.

BERI: An open RISC softcore for research and experimentation

OpentransputerBERI (the Bluespec Extensible RISC Implementation) is a softcore processor jointly developed by SRI International and The University of Cambridge. It implements a superset of the MIPS III ISA in Bluespec, a high-level HDL and supports a fully Open Source, permissively licensed, software stack comprising the FreeBSD operating system and the LLVM compiler suite. This talk will describe the design of the BERI processor and its use.

BERI was created to facilitate experimentation at the boundaries between CPU architecture, operating systems, and programming languages. It runs in Altera and Xilinx FPGAs, including the NetFPGA 10G board. At 100MHz, it is fast enough to use as a real computer (albeit a fairly slow one).

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Making your program faster and greener

Mon, May 18th 2015 17:43 Posted by Andres Baravalle

Jeremy Bennett, Embecosm

Abstract

Compilers take computer programs and translate them to the binary machine code processors actually run. Two of the most widely used compilers are completely free and open source: GCC and LLVM. In this article we look at two recent industrial research projects supported by Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency, which advance the state of the art with these compilers.

The MAGEEC project, a joint project between Embecosm and Bristol University, is an open source machine learning framework for any compiler, which allows the compiler to be trained to generate more energy efficient code. A side-benefit is that energy efficient code turns out to be much faster code.

Superoptimization as a technique to achieve the ultimate in compiled performance has been around in academic circles for nearly 30 years.

During the summer of 2014, Innovate UK funded a feasibility study to see whether any of these techniques were commercially viable. The good news is that some techniques could now, or with a modest amount of further industrial R&D, offer exceptional benefit for real-world software. And once again the software is open source.

MAchine Guided Energy Efficient Compilation (MAGEEC)

A study carried out by James Pallister at Bristol University and funded by the UK compiler development company Embecosm in summer 2012 found that choice of compiler optimization  flags had a major effect on the energy consumed by the compiled program. The bad news was that the options to be used varied from architecture to architecture and program to program [1].

The MAGEEC project was funded by the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) under its Energy Efficient Computing initiative, to develop a machine learning based compiler infrastructure capable of optimizing for energy. Running from June 2013 to November 2014, it was a joint feasibility study between Embecosm and Bristol University, to develop a machine learning compiler infrastructure that could optimize for energy. Key criteria were that the infrastructure should be generic, it should optimize for energy, that it should be based on real energy measurements, not models and that it should create a fully working system. The entire project was free and open source. Read the rest of this entry »

Wiring the Internet of Things with Raspberry Pi & Node-RED – London 21/05/2015

Thu, Apr 23rd 2015 18:08 Posted by Andres Baravalle

The BCS OSSG, IBM UK and the OSHUG, with support from the Knowledge Transfer Network and hardware sponsored by RS DesignSpark are hosting an event on wiring the Internet of Things.

The event will be held on Thursday 21st May at Fab Lab London, 1 Frederick’s Place, Off Old Jewry, London, EC2R 8AE from 12:30:00pm to 6:30pm.

This event is free to attend for both BCS Members and non-members but booking is required.

Node-RED

Node-REDNode-RED is a visual tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. Used together with Raspberry Pi it provides a compact, powerful platform that is able to read sensors, control outputs, and send and receive data to and from the Web and other systems.

This workshop will provide an introduction to Node-RED and integrating simple sensors and outputs, applying basic processing and publishing data to the Web. No prior experience with either Node-RED or electronics is required. However, while not strictly necessary, some experience of JavaScript would be beneficial as this is used to implement custom functionality within Node-RED. Read the rest of this entry »

Hackerspace/makerspace/fablab panel discussion – London 16/04/2015

Sun, Mar 29th 2015 16:42 Posted by Andres Baravalle

HackspaceThe BCS OSSG and the OSHUG are hosting a panel discussion which will explore the organisation, operation, challenges and benefits of creative spaces known as hackerspaces, makerspaces and fablabs.

There will be representatives from Makespace Cambridge, South London Makerspace, So Make It (Southampton), Fab Lab London, London Hackspace and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The event will be held on Thursday 16th April at BCS HQ – 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

This event is free to attend for both BCS Members and non-members but booking is required.

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Make a Shrimp for Easter – a practical embedded computing workshop for kids and their parents/guardians – London 01/05/2015

Tue, Mar 10th 2015 11:53 Posted by Andres Baravalle

The BCS Open Source and Software Practice Advancement specialist groups are hosting a workshop which looks at embedded computing for kids. The event will be held on Wednesday 1st April 2015 at BCS HQ – 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

This event is free to attend for both BCS Members and non-members but booking is required. Places are limited; please book as soon as possible.

Synopsis

ShrimpThe Shrimp is an incredibly fun, low cost computer that can be built and programmed by just about anyone, in only a few hours and with no prior experience of electronics or programming. Comprising of a simple circuit that is assembled from a handful of components, it can quickly be made to flash LEDs and put to use in exciting projects that have switches, sensors and outputs.

During this workshop participants will first construct the basic Shrimp circuit, before programming it to blink a single LED, and then go onto a more advanced project – such as adding more LEDs and programming it to paint letters in the air with these as it is waved about (using a phenomenon termed persistence of vision). At the end of the evening, teams will demonstrate the fruits of their labours to each other and there may well be some Easter eggs to share around as a reward!

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