Thursday, October 22, 2009

Digging Intel Itanium: RSE, Register Stack Engine

Itanium processors heralded a new era or processing. Though not very successful commercially, IPF has added many wonderful techniques to computer science. I'll discuss the one I liked the most.

It is called RSE (Register Stack Engine), a technique to avoid using main memory during function calls and do the stuff in processor register itself. When a function call is made, calling function passes the arguments that are saved in main memory. After this, the return address is saved. Main memory access is slower when compared to processor speed. Itanium has 128 GPR and out of those 96 are available for RSE. These 96 registers take care of function call mechanism, appearing as a register stack frame to the application. This bypasses memory access till all 96 registers are occupied. Interestingly, processor itself is responsible for running this show and also it's transparent to the application.

More here:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fast hard drives: How?

A simple hard drive today is capable of things that sound like some outlandish technology. Just try to do some file I/O in your application and do it with many threads.
Say you have 4 threads, A,B,C, and D. And request to do I/O comes in A then B and so on. If you check the return status of these threads, the ordering might be surprising. Thread D may return before A. How?

Disk have a technology called Native Command Ordering. So they take your request in and process them on a single, simple logic:
-> Serve the one which you can do fastest.
This depends on the head position of the disk. The request that can be served with minimal movement of head, is served first.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A few 'why' answered

There are certain 'why' that we may have missed, so I am trying to attend by one.

o Why do we need hash table?
Of course, for better, faster search. It could even get us an element in O(1).

But we need to use hash because if given data is in a form which can't be ordered; we need hashing. Example can be images. How will you order a set of images and search any.
Hashing comes to help here. It generates a unique(ideally) hash key for given such data. We save these keys in a hash table. So searching an image is now searching a key in hash table. Keys are generated with a hash function. More about that later.

To be continued with more whys.