Student Competition

2010 Computer Society Student Competition


2 July 2010

From Alan Clements
Student Competition Chair

It gives me great pleasure to announce the results of the 2010 IEEE Computer Society Student Competition. Teams of undergraduates were asked to design a CPU architecture, build a simulator for it, and write a report. This competition required students to have a wide range of experience from computer architecture, to software design and software engineering, and finally, the ability to write an extensive report.
Judging this competition has been exceedingly difficult – not least because students were not constrained (they had considerable freedom in how they interpreted the problem). The international panel of judges included academics and industrialists including people who have worked for major semiconductor corporations.
The standard was high. Indeed, the judges were unable to select one winner. Two teams were chosen by the judges as clear winners. As chair of the judging panel, I could have forced the judges to choose one winner, however, given the small difference between the two leading teams, I have decided to declare two joint winners. I contacted senior officials of the computer society and they have generously agreed to increase the first prize from $7,000 to $9,000 because of the excellence of the top two teams. Choosing the winners of the supplementary prizes was easier because there the judges were in agreement.
The results are as follows:
Joint first place (two prizes of $4,500)
Al-Azhar University Team – Egypt
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Team – S. Korea
Prize for the best architecture of $1,000
Russian State Technological University (MATI) – Russia
Prize for the best simulator of $1,000
Al-Azhar University Team – Egypt
Prize for the best software design of $1,000
Los Andes University at Bogota Team - Colombia





The IEEE Computer Society is pleased to announce the names of the teams who are invited to continue onto the final stage of the 2010 Computer Society Competition:


Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Team - S. Korea

Al-Azhar University Team - Egypt
Chulalongkorn University Znchronization Team
- Thailand

Florida Gulf Coast University Team - USA
Los Andes University at Bogota Team - Colombia

Russian State Technological University (MATI) - Russia
San Pablo Catholic University Peru Team
- Peru

University of Informatics Sciences (UCI) Team 9 - Cuba
Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Team - Colombia

University of California, San Diego Team - USA

University of Jordan Team - Jordan

University of Massachusetts, Amherst Red Team - USA


(Winners to be announced 1 July 2010.)


IEEE Computer Society System Competition

The purpose of the competition is to promote excellence in the design of a system by a team of students. The IEEE Computer Society has constructed a realistic and non-trivial task that requires a group of students to solve a real-world problem.

Judging will be carried out according to the following criteria:

o    Originality of the architecture designed
o    Functionality, quality, and versatility of the simulator
o    The use of software engineering in the design of the simulator

The simulator must be able to run on typical PCs under Windows.  We appreciate that some may find this restriction restrictive. However, not all judges, evaluators, and users will have alternative operating systems on their home computers.

Each team must certify that their reports and software are their own work and have not been derived (with or without permission) from other sources.

A team may consist of three to five students at an institution of higher education. All members of the team must be on a course leading to a first degree. Note that team members do not necessarily have to be on a computer science degree course – the only restriction is that they are students. Each team should have a faculty mentor who can help the students by providing them with facilities they may need, or by providing lab space etc. More importantly, the mentor should help bring the team together and give them the encouragement they need. However, the mentor is not a member of the team and must not carry out any of the work.

The Simulator

Many universities employ a simulator to teach computer architecture to their students. Typically, this simulator allows a student to write machine-level (assembly language) code and to execute it line-by-line while observing the execution of the code by monitoring the contents of registers and memory locations. Probably the most famous simulator is the SPIM simulator that simulates the MIPS32 architecture.

Contestants are asked to devise their own processor. Credit will be awarded for their construction of the instruction set and the tradeoff between complexity and elegance. This aspect gives contestants an opportunity to ‘play’ with a computer architecture and to demonstrate originality. You are being asked to construct an instruction set (a so-called instruction set architecture, ISA) – you are not being asked to design the hardware or internal logic of a computer.

In order to simplify the project, students are not required to consider interrupt handling, floating-point operations, or pipelining/superscalar mechanisms. That is, your hypothetical architecture does not have to include floating-point instructions and it does not have to implement hardware interrupts.

Students are required to create an integrated environment in which their simulator runs. Credit will be given ingenuity (e.g., the use of color for instructions – or even clever typography, the display of internal data in registers and memory, and so on).

The Report

The final report must consist of no more than 40 pages (1½ line spacing) set out as follows:

•    Introduction
•    Design of the architecture
•    Design of the Simulator
•    Use of software engineering in creating the product
•    Testing the product
•    Reflective overview of the project
•    Appendices

The Final Report

The top ten teams who go through to second-round of judging may submit an updated final report if they wish to take account of progress they have made, and of improvements and advances that have taken place since their first submission.

Intellectual Property Rights

The IEEE Computer Society is interested only in using this competition to promote excellence. The Computer Society reserves the right to publish the best reports on its website (together with the simulator). However, the copyright of the report and the ownership of any software developed remains with the teams.

How to Win the Competition

The judges are looking for a high-quality project – both in terms of the actual software and the written report. Quality must be demonstrated throughout the project – from the specification and design of the simulator, to its implementation and testing. Credit will be given for any user documentation or help-facilities incorporated within the simulator.

The IEEE Computer Society promotes professional standards in the design of software. Consequently, the teams most likely to be successful in this competition will be those who pay attention to good program design techniques.

Some team must win this competition – it might as well be YOUR team.