Fall 2014 SPO600 Weekly Schedule

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This is a draft only!
It is still under construction and content may change. Do not rely on this information.
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Winter 2014 Material
This page is currently being adapted from the Winter 2014 SPO600 Weekly Schedule page and may contain bad or old information. Please revisit this page later for Fall 2014 updates.
It's Alive!
This SPO600 weekly schedule will be updated as the course proceeds - dates and content are subject to change. The cells in the summary table will be linked to relevant resources and labs as the course progresses.

Summary Table

This is a summary/index table. Please follow the links in each cell for additional detail -- especially for the Deliverables column.

Week Week of... Tuesday Thursday Deliverables
1 Sep 1 (Experience Seneca Orientation - No Class) Introduction to Software Porting, Portability, Benchmarking, and Optimization Set up accounts
2 Sep 8 How is Code Accepted? - Analyze code submissions in two separate open source projects Computer Architecture Overview Blog a commentary on code reviews in two communities (Lab 1)
3 Sep 15 (TBA)
4 Sept 22 Introduction to Assembly Language Hello World - Compile a basic C program and analyze the resultant binary Set up a Fedora system and the ARMv8 Foundation Model / Blog on binary analysis (Lab 2)
5 Sep 29 Writing x86 Assembly Language Writing Aarch64 Assembley Language Blog about writing in assembly language (Lab 3)
6 Oct 6 Lab 3 results, inline assembler, and compiler optimizations Analyzing a codebase for assembler and non-portable code Blog post about codebase analysis
7 Oct 13 Memory Barriers and Atomics Potential Project Analysis Blog about your selected projects
Study Week Oct 20 Study Week
FSOSS 2014 on Thursday-Friday
8 Oct 27 Architecture-specific Code for Performance Group hack session - Porting Identify the assembler in your projects and contact your upstream communities.
9 Nov 3 Portability - Removing platform-specific code Group hack session - Portability Remove platform-specific code from your projects
8 Nov 10 Project Work Project Work Get code into review
9 Nov 17 Status Update Foundation Models Install and Test With Foundation Model
10 Nov 24 Profiling Baseline Profiling Post baseline stats for your software
11 Nov 17 Optimizing Code Group hack - Profiling and optimizing Code review update
12 Nov 24 Using complier optimizations Project Work Code review update
13 Dec 1 Final Presentations (No class - Exams start) Code accepted upstream
Exam Week Dec 8 Exam Week - No exam in this course!


Category Percentage Evaluation Dates
Communication 20% September 30, October 31, November 21, December 10
Quizzes 10% May be held during any class, usually at the start of class. A minimum of 5 one-page quizzes will be given. No make-up/retake option is offered if you miss a quiz. Lowest 3 scores will not be counted.
Labs 10% See deliverables column above.
Project work 60% October 10, November 21, December 10

Week 1

Tuesday (Jan 7)

  • Introduction to the Problem
    • Most software is written in a high-level language which can be compiled into machine code for a specific architecture. However, there is a lot of existing code that contains some architecture-specific code fragments written in Assembly Language.
    • Reasons for writing code in Assembly Langauge include:
      • Performance
      • Atomic Operations
      • Direct access to hardware features, e.g., CPUID registers
    • Most of the historical reasons for including assembler are no longer valid. Modern compilers can out-perform most hand-optimized assembly code, atomic operations can be handled by libraries or compiler intrinsics, and most hardware access should be performed through the operating system or appropriate libraries.
    • A new architecture has appeared: Aarch64, which is part of ARMv8. This is the first new computer architecture to appear in several years.
    • There are over 1400 software packages/modules present in GNU Linux systems which contain architecture-specific assembly language code. Most of these packages cannot be built on Aarch64 systems without modification.
  • In this course, you will:
    1. Select two software packages from a list compiled by Steve Macintyre of Linaro. Each of the packages on this list contains assembly language code which is platform-specific.
    2. Prepare a fix/patch for the software so that it will run on 64-bit ARM systems (aarch64). This may be done at either of two levels:
      1. Port - Add additional assembly language code for aarch64 (basic solution).
      2. Make Portable - Remove architecture-specific code, replacing it with compiler intrinsics or high-level code so that the software will successfully build on multiple platforms.
    3. Benchmark - Prove that your changes do not cause a performance regression on existing platforms, and that (ideally) it improves performance.
    4. Upstream your Code - Submitting your code to the upstream (originating) software project so that it can be incorporated into future versions of the software. This will involve going through a code review to ensure that your code is compatible with and acceptable to the upstream community.
  • Optional: You can participate in the Linaro Code Porting/Optimization contest. For details, see the YouTube video of Jon "maddog" Hall and Steve Mcintyre at Linaro Connect USA 2013.
  • Course details:
    • Course resources are linked from the CDOT wiki, starting at http://zenit.senecac.on.ca/wiki/index.php/SPO600 (Quick find: This page will usually be Google's top result for a search on "SPO600").
    • Coursework is submitted by blogging.
    • Quizzes will be short (1 page) and will be held without announcement at any time. Your lowest three quiz scores will not be counted, so do not worry if you miss one or two.
    • Course marks:
      • 60% - Project Deliverables
      • 20% - Communication (Blog and Wiki writing)
      • 20% - Labs and Quizzes
    • Friday classes will be held in an "Active Learning Classroom". You are encouraged to bring your own laptop to these classes.
    • For more course information, refer to the SPO600 Weekly Schedule (this page), the Course Outline, and SPO600 Course Policies.

Friday (Jan 10)

Bring Your Laptop
Friday classes are held in a Active Learning Classroom. If you have a laptop or other device with an HDMI or VGA output (such as a smartphone!) please feel free to bring it.

Week 1 Deliverables

  1. Set up a blog and add it to Planet CDOT.
  2. Blog your conclusion to the SPO600 Code Review Lab.
  3. Add yourself to the Winter 2014 SPO600 Participants page (leave the projects columns blank).
  4. Sign and return the Open Source Professional Option Student Agreement.