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October 6, 2015 / gus3

A Little Diversion


The XtraScreenHacks screensaver collection for X11 has an interesting, if unusual, clock: the Berlin Clock, or “berlinuhr.” Based on the Set Theory Clock, it has four counting rows: five hours, single hours, five minutes, and single minutes, plus a single flashing second indicator on top.

As an independent study, I wanted to create a text-based version of the Berlin Clock, to learn a little ncurses programming, plus the ability to handle a terminal window resize. Read more…

January 12, 2015 / gus3

Getting a Time Without NTP

One of the drawbacks of a Raspberry Pi is its lack of an on-board clock. After a reboot, its clock is set to midnight, New Year’s Day, 1970 UTC, the beginning of the Unix epoch, and then the kernel boots. However, it is possible to get the current time early in the boot process, with one condition: an NFS root filesystem.

Read more…

August 11, 2014 / gus3

Intel Finally Slims Down

I know it’s been, oh, over a year since my last post. It’s been kind of like the Olympic gold medalist’s let-down: what do I do now? I’ve done a lot of tinkering, and “what happens if I do this?” kind of stuff, but nothing really big.

But this afternoon, I read about Intel’s new 14-nanometer process for making a CPU, giving 52-nm interconnects. Now, given that the covalent diameter of silicon is 222 picometers, a 52-nm interconnect would be:

52000 / 222 = 234 silicon atoms wide.

The mind boggles.

August 9, 2013 / gus3

Accessing the Raspberry Pi’s 1MHz timer, via kernel driver


As it turns out, my previous effort was, shall we say, somewhat off-base. Being a member of the “kmem” group, or running a SUID-root program, isn’t enough to access /dev/mem; the program capability CAP_SYS_RAWIO must also be present.
Read more…

July 1, 2013 / gus3

ARM VFP Vector Programming, Part 3: Source

Here are the source code and Make files for the two examples discussed in Part 2.

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June 27, 2013 / gus3

ARM VFP Vector Programming, Part 2: Examples

In Part 1, I explained the design philosophy of vector calculations using the ARM Vector Floating Point system. This article will demonstrate the actual practice of using vectors in the ARM VFP.
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June 25, 2013 / gus3

ARM VFP Vector Programming, Part 1: Introduction

The ARM VFP co-processor is most commonly used for individual floating-point computations, in the so-called “scalar mode.” In Flynn’s taxonomy, this is known as SISD, or “single instruction, single destination.” This design philosophy is the basic form for most low-level assembly most high-level compilers. In cases where different data sources are treated differently, for whatever reason, SISD is the norm.

However, when a block of identical operations are carried out on a sequence of data points, then it is possible to fetch several of the source data, and perform the operations on them all at once. This may be something as simple as adding the values of two arrays and storing the results into a third array, which may be part of a sophisticated analysis on a digital image. A close examination of the processing can show where Single Instruction, Multiple Destination (SIMD) design can boost a program’s performance.

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