Compiler based parallelisation and optimisation

2 PhD studentships are available to study
  • GPU optimisation
  • Profile-directed parallelisation
  • The studentships will be held under the supervision of Prof. Michael O'Boyle and Dr Bjoern Franke within the Institute for Computing Systems Architecture, at the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, to begin in 2017, start date flexible. Both these studentships are in collaboaration with ARM.


    GPU optimisation
    GPUs were initially designed as dedicated hardware accelerators for a graphics pipeline. Since then, they have expanded their usage to a much wider class of application. GPUs are widely recognised as having the potential to deliver power efficient high performance. However, achieving this potential is difficult due to rapidly evolving architecture and the increasing diversity of applications. This project will investigate compiler optimisation to improve the performance portability of GPUs. It will explore the impact optimisation has on existing OpenCL and graphics shader workloads as well as emerging applications from Computer Vision.
    Profile-directed parallelisation
    The aim of this applied research is to investigate how to improve parallelisation of sequential legacy applications using combined static and dynamic analyses and parallel patterns (also known as algorithmic skeletons). Existing parallelising compilers are built on the same, fundamentally flawed principle: Reliance on static analysis and focus on a single type of parallelism only. Unfortunately, this does not work in practice and state-of-the-art auto-parallelisers fail to detect parallelism or, even worse, result in performance degradation. This project proposes to explore a radically new approach to parallelisation, where we (a) exploit well-known parallel patterns exposing all levels and shapes of parallelism, and (b) use compiler-directed dynamic information to overcome static analyis limitations.
    The exact details of each project are flexible depending on the candidate's interests and background.


    This Studentship will cover all tuition fees and provide a tax-free stipend at the EPSRC rate. Students receive funding for a full EPSRC studentship for 3.5 years (currently around £68,648) plus an additional 3.5k per annum and funded internship.

    Candidate Profile

    Suitable candidates will have a strong first degree in Computer Science or Mathemeatics and a strong interest in parallel programming, design space exploration, optimizing compilers or machine learning. The exact topic of the PhD is flexible depending on the candidate's interests. We are looking for the brightest minds to pursue research in a cutting-edge arena. Candidate with Masters degrees or significant insdustrial experience are also strongly encouraged to apply.
    The successful candidate will benefit from both academic and industrial research, have the opportunity to gain real working experience in a world leading processor design centre at ARM Ltd., Cambridge.
    The anticipated start date is Sept 2015 but this is flexible

    Research Partner

    Institute for Computing Systems Architecture (ICSA) The Institute for Computing Systems Architecture (ICSA) is one of seven research institutes in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. It was founded in 1998, following the creation of Informatics. ICSA is primarily concerned with the architecture and engineering of future computing systems. Within its five research groups, ICSA covers topics which include: performance and scalability, innovative algorithms, architectures, compilers, languages, and protocols.
    The CaRD group at Edinburgh is internationally leading in for compiler and architecture co-design and optimisation - this will form the backbone to this project.

    Industrial Partner: ARM Ltd.

    ARM Holdings is the world's leading semiconductor intellectual property (IP) supplier and as such is at the heart of the development of digital electronic products. Headquartered in Cambridge, UK, and employing over 2,000 people, ARM has offices around the world, including design centres in Taiwan, France, India, Sweden, and the US. The ARM business model involves the designing and licensing of IP rather than the manufacturing and selling of actual semiconductor chips. ARM licenses IP to a network of Partners, which includes the world's leading semiconductor and systems companies. These Partners utilise ARM IP designs to create and manufacture system-on-chip designs, paying ARM a license fee for the original IP and a royalty on every chip or wafer produced. In addition to processor IP, ARM provides a range of tools, physical and systems IP to enable optimised system-on-chip designs. With the diversity of ARM IP and the broad ecosystem of supporting silicon and software for ARM based solutions, the world's leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) use ARM technology in a wide variety of applications ranging from mobile handsets and digital set top boxes to car braking systems and network routers. Today ARM technology is in use in 95% of smart phones, 80% of digital cameras, and 35% of all electronic devices.

    Applying for the Studentship

    Candidates are encouraged to contact Michael O'Boyle or Bjoern Franke to informally discuss the project further. Formal application will be through the School's normal PhD application process.