A couple of weeks ago, I attended PLARCH 2023: a new workshop about the intersection between Programming Languages and Computer Architecture. There was a lot of interest in attending and speaking at the workshop so the program consisted of a lot of short talks with group discussions in between.
So what topics are at the intersection of programming languages and hardware? Looking through the program, you can see the following
- Hardware specifications and things you can do with them
- Microarchitectural side channels
- Domain specific languages
- Machine learning - with a strong emphasis on sparse models
- Formally verified hardware
- Weak memory models
- Model checking hardware
- Using E-graphs to generate efficient hardware
- A better hardware design language than Verilog
- The CHERI capability architecture
- Coping with hardware wearout
- Software synthesis
Overall, I would say that the topics, speakers and audience was more PL people than hardware people - but there was a bit of a mix.
There were a lot of great talks but some of the highlights for me were:
- The growth of formal verification of hardware and software at Sandia National Labs (a very familiar story of overcoming preconceptions and technical challenges about formal verification while building up the team and tool capability)
- “Non-Newtonian hardware design for longevity” (co-designing hardware-software to anticipate and respond to hardware wearout)
- “Fearless hardware design” is about a type system for reasoning about timing in hardware design (see the PLDI paper)
And, while I admit to a degree of personal bias in this selection, I also enjoyed
- the Silver Oak hardware-software co-verification project (lead by my friend Satnam Singh)
- the E-graph based tool for creating efficient floating point hardware (by colleagues at Intel)
- my talk about multi-use ISA specifications
But, of course the real highlight is talking to people during the breaks.
This inaugural workshop was organized to take advantage of the co-location of PLDI and ISCA — but I hope it becomes an annual event.
The opinions expressed are my own views and not my employer's.