Making your program faster and greener
Mon, May 18th 2015 17:43
Jeremy Bennett, Embecosm
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 .
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 »
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
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.
The 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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OpenCon 2014 – London 26/11/2014
Tue, Nov 11th 2014 11:58
OpenCon 2014 is the student and early career researcher conference on Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data.
OpenCon 2014 London will feature leading speakers from across the Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data movements, including a combination of live speakers and videos from the OpenCon 2014 Washington event.
The talks will be interspersed with interactive group discussions themed around the session topic.
OpenCon 2014 London is a half-day event hosted by Imperial College London (at the Huxley building on 180 Queen’s Gate) with discussions continuing at a nearby pub/restaurant in the evening.
For more details, and to register for a free place, please see the eventbrite page at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/opencon-2014-london-tickets-13952172323
Interested but not able to make it to London? Attend a satellite event near you (or the OpenCon2014 conference itself in Washington, USA) here: http://opencon2014.org/takepart
Editathon (Women In Technology) – Southampton 23/06/2014
Wed, Jun 18th 2014 23:59
The Open Source Specialist Group, The Royal Academy of Engineering, BCSWomen, BCS Hampshire Branch and Southampton Solent University are hosting a joint event to add/update/improve Wikipedia entries of Women In Technology.
The even will take place at the Southampton Solent University, Reginald Mitchell Building, East Park Terrace, Southampton, Hampshire, SO14 0RD, starting at 4 p.m..
Booking is recommended, via firstname.lastname@example.org (please put BCS Hampshire Editathon in the subject). As we are using a laboratory, there is no need to bring your own equipment.
Open Source Compilers – London 23/1/2014
Sat, Dec 14th 2013 14:40
The Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) will be holding a meeting dedicated to Open Source compilers.
The even will take place at the BCS Central London Offices, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7HA betwen 5:30pm and 8 :30pm.
Please register to attend.
The current sessions are:
- LLVM, Simon Cook, Embecosm
- Verilator: An open source Verilog to C++ compiler, Jeremy Bennett
- Compiler optimization for energy minimization, James Pallister, University of Bristol
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