SPO600 - Software Portability and Optimization

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-09-24 00:38:16.969
Last review date 2018-12-03 00:18:05.142

Subject Title
Software Portability and Optimization

Subject Description
This course introduces students to the dual challenges of porting software to run on new architectures and optimizing software performance. Students will learn to identify and replace architecture-specific code segments, benchmark software performance, and alter software to increase performance. This is a project-based course, and students will work within an established Open Source community to port and/or optimize an existing program. The particular open source community or communities to be studied will vary with each offering and be announced at the beginning of the semester.

Credit Status
One credit in the CNS, CTY, CPD, and CPA programs.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

  • Identify the differences between two computer architectures.

  • Describe the process of porting software to a new architecture.

  • Identify architecture-specific code segments.

  • Read assembly-language code.

  • Benchmark and profile software performance.

  • Optimize software performance.

  • Use the tools of open source development particular to the OS project being studied. For example: distributed revision control; documentation tools; automated build and test systems; debuggers; source code utilities; tracking systems; on-line resources, etc.

Academic Integrity
Seneca upholds a learning community that values academic integrity, honesty, fairness, trust, respect, responsibility and courage. These values enhance Seneca's commitment to deliver high-quality education and teaching excellence, while supporting a positive learning environment. Ensure that you are aware of Seneca's Academic Integrity Policy which can be found at: http://www.senecacollege.ca/about/policies/academic-integrity-policy.html Review section 2 of the policy for details regarding approaches to supporting integrity. Section 2.3 and Appendix B of the policy describe various sanctions that can be applied, if there is suspected academic misconduct (e.g., contract cheating, cheating, falsification, impersonation or plagiarism).

Please visit the Academic Integrity website http://open2.senecac.on.ca/sites/academic-integrity/for-students to understand and learn more about how to prepare and submit work so that it supports academic integrity, and to avoid academic misconduct.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at student.conduct@senecacollege.ca.

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Accessibility Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

IPC144 and (OPS435, or OOP344, or OOP345)

Topic Outline

Topic Outline:

  • Overview of computer architecture – 15%

    • Architectural features

    • Portability issues

  • Assembly language programming – 15%

    • Instruction set architectures

    • Interpreting assembly language code

    • Writing equivalent assembler for alternate platforms

    • Replacing assembler with portable code

  • Compiler options and optimization – 15%

    • Compiler options affecting portability

  • Benchmarking and Profiling – 15%

    • Reliable benchmarking

    • Profiling tools and procedures

  • Optimizing Software – 20%

    • Understanding performance characteristics

    • Performance trade-offs

    • Algorithm selection and replacement

  • Working with Open Source Communities – 20%

    • Communication

    • Collaboration

    • Submitting software changes

    • Code review practices


Mode of Instruction
4 hours per week in an active learning classroom.

Prescribed Texts

Reference Material

Course wiki pages

(Additional web resources will vary and will be identified during the course).

Required Supplies
Will vary with project.

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online (http://www.senecacollege.ca/academic-policy) or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation

Project deliverables 60%
Communication (including Wiki and Blog) 20%
Labs and Quizzes 20%

Approved by: Mary-Lynn Manton