Re: Assembly language programming preferable to HLL ???

decvax!wanginst!infinet!rhorn (Rob Horn)
Thu, 11 Dec 86 17:55:33 est

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Newsgroups: mod.compilers
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 86 17:55:33 est
From: decvax!wanginst!infinet!rhorn (Rob Horn)
In-Reply-To: <281@ima.UUCP>
Organization: Infinet, Inc. North Andover, MA
Cc:

I recently had this argument ( in specific the situation was comparing
a high quality Fortran 77, an optimized C, and assembler) and received
a very different rationale for the superiority of assembler. It was
empirically argued that persons with sufficient skill to make the
assembler code function also had the requisite skills to understand
the problem and solve it properly. Persons skilled in High level
languages usually did *NOT* (well proven by the code that I am
presently repairing) have the background needed.


The basic problem with HOL's is that the programmers did not
understand the very strict and complex timing rules that must be
followed to make a radar controller and signal conditioner work in a
cost effective manner. Assembler programmers did understand timing
rules. There was a subsidiary problem concerning a more generic
awareness of the behaviour of hardware.


There was also a secondary performance argument, but so far I have
shown that optimized C is running within 80% of the assembler versions.
This skill issue is the first substantive argument that I have ever
seen in favor of assembler. It only applies to one class of
application, but it may be valid. Is this observed correlation of
skills accurate? Is it based on some causal relationship?
--
Rob Horn
UUCP: ...{decvax, seismo!harvard}!wanginst!infinet!rhorn
Snail: Infinet, 40 High St., North Andover, MA
[Your moderator finds this problem pretty spurious. Sure, there are problems
with such strong real-time constraints that you have to program in machine
language and count every cycle. For the other 99% of the problems, I've seen
plenty of inept assembler programmers and skilled HOL programmers. The inept
assembler programmers tended to waste a lot of time hand-optimizing code where
the size and speed didn't make any difference, then program a bubble sort in
the inner loop because the data structures for heapsort are too complicated to
write in assembler. -John]





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