compiler

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  • LLVM compiler. A number of people at the High Performance Graphics 2009 symposium were impressed, or even using, this new compiler. It’s new, based on recent research on compilers and optimization, and is supposed to be darn good. More here, with page 3 talking about Apple’s use of it for GLSL code optimization.
  • Very Sleepy CPU Profiler. Free, of course, and works directly on any Windows app with PDBs. Sounds pretty convenient if you don’t have access to a reasonable profiler, or just want to try a different one (I’ve found profilers sometimes have blind spots or peculiar biases). Bonus link at the same site: summaries and links to classic graphics papers. The first sentence on this page made me laugh.
  • Vista Gadgets. I use the NVIDIA temperature gadget, the memory monitor’s also handy. An alternate temperature gadget is here.
  • NVIDIA NEXUS. Debugging GPU code with PIX is flakey at best; I have high hopes that this product from NVIDIA will be much better. It’s something NVIDIA will charge for (a first for NVIDIA, I think), and that’s fine by me if it does a noticeably better job.
  • NVPP. A CUDA library of functions from NVIDIA. I haven’t tried CUDA, but this library looks worthwhile. To be honest, in the long-term OpenCL or compute shaders look like the popular future for commercial products vs. research, since those two are multi-platform. CUDA is much more developed at this point, however, and I’ve heard that whatever techniques you learn using CUDA can almost always be applied to the other two. So, I’m on the fence waiting for a winner, since I have no personal reason to use any of them at this point.
  • VMMap. A little free application that shows where all the memory went.
  • OverClock Checking Tool. I kinda forgot people still overclock. This utility is interesting even if you don’t, if nothing else than to check if things are working. It’s a bit exciting to hear my GPU’s fan kick into overdrive as the temperature climbs to 87 degrees Celsius (188.6 Fahrenheit). I also learnt a little more about my Intel Core 2 Quad CPU: it “idles” at 2.0 GHz, but jumps up to 2.66 GHz when running something serious. I wimped out on going ahead with the Power Supply test, as their warning kept me away.

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Latency

Herb Sutter’s site has some interesting material about CPU architectures. His article “The Free Lunch is Over” is a bit dated-everyone should know by now that multicore is upon us-but does a good job pounding home that concurrency is the way of the future (i.e., like, now). It also has some memorable lines, like, “Cache is King,” and “Andy Giveth, and Bill Taketh Away.” I contemplate the latter every time I open up a Word document and it takes 25 seconds to appear.

What I noticed today, due to Eric Preisz’s new indexbuffer site, was that Herb has a newer presentation available, “Machine Architecture: Things Your Programming Language Never Told You.” This covers in-depth the topic of latency and how the CPU attempts to hide it. It’s worth a look if you’re at all interested in the topic; there’s material here that I hadn’t seen presented before. I skimmed over the odd things that compilers might do to code, I must admit, but overall I found it worthwhile.

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