Machine Architecture Talk at NWCPP in September

For anyone who’s interested and in the Pacific Northwest area, I’ll be giving a talk at NWCPP on September 19. Without giving too much away, I can tell you it will feature everything from a real rocket launch (well, on video) to a Roman chariot race (well, actually, sort of a simulation of a chariot race involving arrays, lists, and sets):

Machine Architecture: Things Your Programming Language Never Told You

High-level languages insulate the programmer from the machine. That’s a wonderful thing — except when it obscures the answers to the fundamental questions of “What does the program do?” and “How much does it cost?”

The C++/C#/Java programmer is less insulated than most, and still we find that programmers are consistently surprised at what simple code actually does and how expensive it can be — not because of any complexity of a language, but because of being unaware of the complexity of the machine on which the program actually runs.

This talk examines the “real meanings” and “true costs” of the code we write and run especially on commodity and server systems, by delving into the performance effects of bandwidth vs. latency limitations, the ever-deepening memory hierarchy, the changing costs arising from the hardware concurrency explosion,
memory model effects all the way from the compiler to the CPU to the chipset to the cache, and more — and what you can do about them.

See the NWCPP website for more details as the date gets closer.

NWCPP meetings are open and free-as-in-beer, so come one and come all, but note that some nights the room tends to fill up quickly so it can be worth being a little early to be sure of having an actual seat. NWCPP are currently meeting on the Microsoft campus in Building 41, which happens to be the building I work in, and so unfortunately none of my usual excuses for being late will work and I’ll have to show up on time…