The first Computer and System Architecture Unraveled Event in Kista – Great Speakers, Great Fun!

On the evening of the last Wednesday in September, we had our first CaSA, Computer and System Architecture Unraveled, event. CaSA is a meetup in Kista (Sweden) for people interested in computer architecture, system architecture, and how software and hardware interact down towards the lower levels of the stack. The topic for the inaugural event was “Core Count Explosion: A Challenge for Hardware and Software”, and it was great in some many ways!

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RI.SE AI Day – More on LLMs (and some)

The Swedish research institute RI.SE hosted an “Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science day” (AI and CS day) last week. RI.SE has a long tradition of hosting interesting open houses, both as RI.SE and in their previous guide as SiCS. The day was a mix of organized talks in the morning, and an open house where RI.SE researchers showed off their work in the afternoon. Most of the AI discussions were related to large language models (LLMs), but not all. I got some new insights about LLMs in general and using LLMs for coding in particular.

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That’s Odd: How iCue and Windows 11 Ruin Simics Performance

While working on some screenshots for an upcoming blog, I noticed something that something was off with the performance of Simics on my Windows 11 laptop. The CPU load did not quite go as high as I am used to – typically, compute-intense run should get close to 100% processor load using a single host thread to execute the simulation. Instead, I got to no more than about 50%, which was decidedly odd. I also had a screenshot from a few days earlier that showed some 90% CPU load. Turns out the culprit was a combination of factors, including the Windows 11 scheduler and the Corsair iCUE software pack.

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ChatGPT and Code

In my previous blog post about ChatGPT and Simics, I tested it on its knowledge and abilities with a fairly niche subject. Not unsurprisingly it did not do all that well. However, one area where ChatGPT appears to really work well is when dealing with program code. This seems more practically useful as well, especially as a generator of starting points and boiler-plate code. It can also sometimes do a decent job explaining code, subject to quite common bizarre mistakes and errors. Update: Part 3, a critique of ChatGPT has been published.

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DVCon Europe 2022. Verification, System Simulation, and People!

The 2022 DVCon (Design and Verification) Europe conference was back in physical form at its usual venue at the Holiday Inn München. It was a great conference, and just like at the 2022 DAC people were very happy to be back in person.

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Notes from our DVCon Europe 2022 Tutorial

I presented a tutorial about the “verification of virtual platforms models” at DVCon Europe last week. The tutorial was prepared by me and Ola Dahl at Ericsson, but Ola unfortunately could not attend and present his part – so I had to learn his slides and style and do my best to be an Ola stand-in (tall order, we really missed you there Ola!). The title maybe did not entirely describe the contents – it was more a discussion around how to think about correctness and in particular specifications vs implementations. The best part was the animated discussion that we got going in the room, including some new insights from the audience that really added to the presented content.

Updated: Included an important point on software correctness that I forgot in the first publication.

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Elektroniktidningen Magazine Article about DML

The November 2022 on-paper magazine from Swedish electronics news site Elektroniktidningen features an article I wrote about the Device Modeling Language (DML). Among many other really good articles.

Update: The article is now available online in HTML format.

Cover of Elektroniktidningen 11/2022
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Testing what the User will See (and why it might not work out)

The other day, I checked out the web interface to the database of in-patient care diagnoses run by Swedish Socialstyrelsen. On first opening the site, it looked broken and unusable – the text was basically unreadable, mixing giant numbers with strange- looking regular characters, lines of text overlapping each other, and a general sense of being totally chaotic. That is not what you or I would expect from an official site of a government entity. They have no reason to play games with the look of the site. So how come it was all that broken?  Didn’t they test the site properly under all circumstances?

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A Study of Cognitive Biases in Software Development

I recently read a few articles on cognitive biases, decision making, and expert intuition from the field of management research. Then an article popped up from the Communications of the ACM (CACM) dealing with cognitive bias in software development. The CACM article is a small field study that serves up some interesting and potentially quite useful conclusions about how to think about thinking in software development.

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Blog: Grug Brained Developer Make Sense                  

A colleague pointed me at the website the other week. It is a very humorous set of observations on corporate life and advice to young developers – written in a silly “cave-man” style. It is obviously based on long experience. The text is also quite quote-worthy, with some passages even being quite poetic in their rough-hewn simplicity.

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Intel Blog: Catching a Tricky Bug by Running Simics on Simics

I recently published a long post on the Intel Community Blog, talking about how my colleague Evgeny solved a nicely complicated bug using Simics-on-Simics. The bug involved UEFI, an operating system, SMM, SMI, and virtualization. Just another day in the office (or more like a year, given how long it took to get this one resolved).

The ESA Schiaparelli Crash & Simulation

Back in 2016, the European Space Agency (ESA) lost the Schiaparelli Mars lander during its descent to the surface on Mars. From a software engineering and testing perspective, the story of why the landing failed (see for example the ESA final analysis, Space News, or the BBC) is instructive. It comes down to how software is written and tested to deal with unexpected inputs in unexpected circumstances. I published a blog post about this right after the event and before the final analysis was available. Thankfully, that has since been retired from its original location-it was a bit too full of speculation that turned out to be incorrect… So here is a mostly rewritten version of the post, quoting the final analysis and with new insights.  

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Building or Designing, Lego and IKEA

Back in April, I presented a talk about how you can use Lego as an analogy for software development in the ProductBeats Show. The talk was based on my previous musings about Lego and software. It was a great fun 15 minutes with a good after-discussion moderated by Magnus Billgren. As always at the ProductBeats show, Magnus nudged me and the audience to think. He kicked off the talk by asking the audience and me about the process of assembling IKEA furniture. Is that assembly about building or designing? That is a very god question. Here is my attempt at an answer.

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SystemC Evolution Fika: Parallel SystemC

The SystemC Evolution Fika on April 7 had threading/parallelism as its theme. There were four speakers who presented various angles on how to parallelize SystemC models. The presentations and following discussion provided a variety of perspectives on threading as it can be applied in virtual platforms and other computer architecture simulations. It was pretty clear that the presenters and audience had quite different ideas about just what the target domain looks like and the best way to introduce parallelism to SystemC. Here is my take on what was said.

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