OSSG Press

Making your program faster and greener

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 [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. (more…)

“Question Time” on Open Source – Bournemouth 17/03/10

In the style of the BBC program “Question Time”, join us for an evening of Q & A on Open Source software. BCS Dorset Branch welcomes the Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) – for an entertaining evening debating this hot topic. Is Linux the answer to everything? Can Open Source software provide a real viable alternative in the business world?

A panel of “experts” will be available to answer your questions and adjudicating events will be the Dorset Branch Chair, Dr Andrew Main. If you have a question please submit this before the event to dorset_events@bcs.org.uk although, just like the real program, we will take some questions on the night.

Booking is required for this event – see Booking Form

Time – 7pm for 7:30pm start

Location – The Lees Lecture Theatre, Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus, Wallisdown Road, Poole – see location map


Terry Coles a leading contributor and member of the Dorset Linux Users Group (DLUG) who is also an Engineering Manager and Consultant for EADS Test Engineering Services (UK) (formerly Racal Instruments) at Ferndown, Dorset.

Peter Dawes-Huish, CEO for LinuxIT, has been part of CRN’s A-List for two years in a row and is a member of the Society of Industry Leaders (SIL). In 2006 LinuxIT was chosen ‘IT Services Supplier of the Year’ at the Computing Awards for Excellence. LinuxIT helps companies throughout Europe by delivering IT consulting, technology and support services through the integration of Open Source solutions.

Simon Gardner a Technology neutral software developer, based in Bournemouth, currently specialising in content management technologies. Experience of delivering web projects using both open and closed source tools.

Nigel Wright, Sales Director, Abtech UK , West Moors, Dorset. Abtech UK is a local integrator of Open Source solutions. Abtech UK work with key open source vendors such as Red Hat/JBoss, Zimbra, Ingress and Alfresco. Abtech UK has carried out quite a lot of research on open source solutions and has a good understanding of the sector. Nigel has a real life viewpoint of how open source is received by the public and private sector as well as giving examples of where it is working well. He is also a BCS Elite member.

Association for Survey Computing (ASC) / Market Research Society (MRS) Open Source Technology – London 23/09/08

The Open Source Specialist Group (OSSG) are supporting an event on 23rd September 2008 starting around 1800 hours with Association for Survey Computing (ASC) and Market Research Society (MRS) considering the use of Open Source in the survey process.

This event will be a discussion and debate about Open Source Software in a ‘Question Time’ format with a panel of 4 informed members (from the Survey industry + OSSG). Drinks and a buffet will be provided.

Venue: The Old Doctor Butler’s Head, 2 Mason’s Avenue, City of London, EC2V 5BT http://www.shepherd-neame.co.uk/pubs/pubs.php/doctor

To book a place to attend this event (free to OSSG members) please email your name to the ASC administrator admin@asc.org.uk as places are limited.

Further details can be found at the MRS site here: http://www.mrs.org.uk/networking/asc/asc.htm and at the Asc site here:http://www.asc.org.uk/