Daisy's Journal: Part 2

Week 6: June 27-July 1

Well, I'm finally past the halfway point of my internship. Aside from watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith last weekend, which I thought was very good by the way, this week hasn't been very exciting. Basically, to obtain results on performance, I have to run 10 or so testbenches, each with 100 million instructions, which takes a VERY LONG time. Originally I ran testbenches for 10 million instructions which would take me at most 2 hours to get through everything, but apparantly the results aren't accurate enough. So yeah, I've basically been rerunning the testbenches all week, messing up occasionally and having to do them again (which is very painful); but when I finally got it down right, I was surprised that it takes only a day to get through all of them assuming I leave the computer on overnight.

Wednesday, in particular, had its ups and downs. Professor Jessica Hodgekins treated all the DMP participants at CMU to a lunch at the Carnegie Museum Cafe, so that was fun getting to know more people (and getting a free lunch). Afterwards, I presented my research work to the grads and undergrads in Diana's group. We've decided from now on to get lunch together on a weekly basis to try to be more social. The downside is that Diana won't be able to join us for lunch, or for any activity whatsoever, since she's attending 2 conferences for the month of July and won't be able to come back to Pittsburgh until after I leave for California. I must admit I felt a bit disheartened to hear her say that, but at least we will still stay in touch through email, and Emil will be here to help me. On a brighter note, happy 4th of July, everyone! I'll be spending it in NYC!!

Week 7: July 5-8

Work this week was painstakingly slow. Diana and Emil decided that for more accurate performance values, I should find the temperatures for each testbench by using HotSpot-2.0, a software that computes relative temperatures in the processor based on the power profile. This requires that I obtain the power profiles of all the testbenches sampled at 50 million cycle intervals, which takes about 2 days to get through all the simulations. Naturally, I mess up a couple of times before I get it down right. Now that I have the power profiles, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to plug this data into HotSpot because the sample values it asks for do not exactly coincide with the values I obtain from the simulator. I tried matching up the values as best as I could on my own, but without Emil and Diana's confirmation, I'm afraid to take the next step. Honestly, waiting for these simulations to finish and for replies to my emails are frustrating because I really want to see the results of my work and have something to show on my final report. Furthermore, running these simulations don't require much brainwork-- I just type in a command, hit enter, and wait for 2 days. In the meantime, I've been surfing the web, studying for GREs, or napping. The work isn't challenging, although I imagine the results should be very interesting as it could make or break the theory that GALS is a better design than synchronous.. It's only a matter of time. Sigh...I know that in research, a lot of the work is time-consuming and may or may not garner valuable results, whereas working in industry is all about obtaining fast results, so I guess I have to decide which workstyle is more suited for me before I decide how far I want to go in grad school.

So now that I got all that out of my system, let me tell you about my trip to NYC! I spent 4 days in Manhattan with my best friend since the 5th grade, Stephanie Gan. She's doing an internship at NYC this summer, so luckily I didn't have to find a place on my own. The poor girl still had work to do during the 4th of July weekend, so I probably spent half of my time in NYC by myself. Anyway, as soon as my plane flew in to New Jersey, I took a shuttle over to Manhattan, figured out how to ride the subways thanks to a CMU grad student on the same flight as me, and made it to Stephanie's place just in time for a satisfying lunch at the local Asian fusion cafe. The waitress at the cafe was super-friendly as she told us how to find our way around Chinatown and made several recommendations on where to eat. The funny thing was, when Steph and I were gazing longingly at the cafe's pastries, the waitress told us "Don't buy it here!! Get it much cheaper at Chinatown!!" HAhahaha, I hope her manager didn't hear that.

Since I felt kind of bloated after the meal, I suggested that we walk all the way from Central Park to Chinatown instead of taking the subway to get rid of the calories (since it didn't look that far on the map). Our plan was to meet her friend Grace for dinner by around 7 pm. On the way, we couldn't resist entering a dessert cafe that displayed the most beautiful cakes and tarts I've ever seen. (I'll put up pics from this trip as soon as I can, btw). So we went inside and ordered some iced tea and split a rum-soaked sponge cake with what I believed were gold flakes sprinkled on top. The cafe interior was very posh, like something out of Sex and the City. It seems like most food places in NYC put a bit of effort into the ambience, something that Pittsburgh restaurants (or most American restaurants for that matter) obviously lack. After walking for what seemed like 4 hours, Steph and I gave in and took a cab to Chinatown, where I had the best Szechuan meal ever thanks to Grace's suggestion. We ordered steamed whole fish in hot sauce, Szechuan spicy noodles, spicy beef tendon, and spicy tofu. Hahaha, we drank soo much water and ate a ton, despite having a huge lunch and dessert prior to this. Later, Grace showed us her apartment in Manhattan which was located at the top of an enormous building somewhere close to Empire State building. The view of Manhattan at night through her floor-to-ceiling windows was so breathtaking, I had to call home about it! I seriously envy her, although a place like that in Manhattan would leave me broke. Finally, we finished the day by watching War of the Worlds, which was a more terrifying movie than I thought it would be, but maybe it was because we were sitting really close to the movie screen.

The next day was less hectic, thankfully. Stephanie had work to catch up on, so I went shopping by myself and agreed to meet her for dinner at Lolu Cafe, which was featured in an episode of Sex and the City. Shopping in NYC is nice.. the city devotes block after block to department stores and boutiques that sell things way over my price range, but it was a nice opportunity to people-watch. New Yorkers, of course, are very fashionably dressed in a sophisticated way, although I personally prefer LA fashion because it's more playful and flashy. I also stopped by the Serendipity Cafe made famous by "Serendipity" the movie and heard a couple come out of the restaurant exclaim, "That was so worth the 2-hour wait!!" Geeez, nothing could be worth a 2 hour wait in my opinion. Lolu Cafe was packed as well, but Steph and I managed to get the last table. I ordered tomato soup and hazelnut torte while she ordered a salad and Amaretto cake with lady's fingers. The cakes were delicious and so incredibly rich that I started feeling a little dizzy, hehe. We liked the cafe so much we decided that we would come back the next day for brunch.

I woke up bright and early on Fourth of July morning and ditched Steph to go to the top of the Empire State building. The view was gorgeous of course, but I honestly think NYC looks better at night. Eiffel Tower vs. Empire State building, hmm.. I still like Eiffel Tower better. Afterwards, I met Steph at Lolu Cafe again, this time ordering a spinach and cheese torte followed by a fruit tart. Then we took the subway to South Manhattan harbor and rode the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty! The statue actually looks shorter than it does in the movies, or maybe we were just not close enough? Unfortunately, Steph had more work to do (even on 4th of July!), and Grace didn't feel like coming out of her apartment, so I spent the evening alone, a little dangerous I admit. While scouring the streets of Southern Manhattan for a promising steakhouse, I happened upon the World Trade Center site. Instantly, the atmosphere took on a somber mood, and even though I still remember feeling horrified watching 9/11 on TV, the feeling that America suffered an enormous loss became more pronounced after actually standing before the site.

After walking a couple blocks down Water St., I unknowingly entered the vicinity of where the fireworks display would be held later that night. The street was closed off from cars, allowing street vendors to set up their various foodbooths. Although Stephanie warned me earlier that food off the street is unsanitary, I couldn't resist getting a lamb gyro, which was kind of a relief considering I've been eating fancy food in fancy places the past couple of days. No regrets there-- you can't go wrong with hot and fluffy pita bread surrounding generous chunks of freshly cooked lamb and veggies. I also bought a bag of cheese 'n spice kettle corn to enjoy during the fireworks display. The fireworks were fun to watch, although I think Disneyland is better at shooting the fireworks in sync with the background music. It's a good thing I'm not claustrophic because we were packed in like sardines on the subway ride back to Steph's place.

I spent my last day in NYC by myself again, since Stephanie had to go back to work of course. The first half of the day, I roamed around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I know people say that it takes an entire day to appreciate the museum, but since my feet were tired, I appreciated it in three hours. =P Honestly, I've never been the museum-exploring type and remember being bored with even the ones in Europe (I'm more impressed by works of architecture). Since it was my last meal in NYC, I thought, "To hell with it, I'll go to the Serendipity Cafe!" Bracing myself for a very long wait, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the wait on a Tuesday at 2PM is around 15 minutes. So I sat down and had their famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate and their creme de la creme cheesecake. All I can say is the fame for their frozen hot chocolate is well-deserved. Finally, I spent the next 2 hours in a mild state of panic, getting my luggage and running all over Manhattan trying to catch my shuttle to the airport. With an hour and a half left until my jet left, and unsure of where the shuttle stop was, I must have been a horrendous sight to the two European men who were also looking for the same shuttle as I wheezed, "Where (pant) is the (pant) New Jersey Express??" They were just as clueless as me, but luckily I spotted the shuttle waiting in front of the New York Hotel on 32nd. "There it is!" I yelled and ran over in a state of frenzy, and finally collapsed on a window seat in relief. The bus didn't take off until a good 10 minutes after I sat down so there really was no point in running like I did across the street, and the two European men smirked at me as they got on the same shuttle all composed and with plenty of time to spare.

So that pretty much covers my holiday. All in all, I had a fabulous time in NYC, and I'd have to say that it is now my favorite city, replacing Paris. I admit it's not the best place to live since cash runs out quickly there and it's a bit too hectic of a place to call home, but it's definitely the best place to visit, especially on 4th of July!

Week 8: July 11-15

It's pretty amazing that I used to be one week ahead of schedule and that this week I had to come in on the weekend to play catch-up. If you look at my previous entry, you might detect a hint of frustration and impatience. By chance, both Emil and Diana emailed me back right after I updated my journal, giving me the go-ahead and suggestions on how to plug in the numbers to HotSpot, so I was feeling much better by the end of the day. By the time we held a conference call with Diana on Monday 4PM, I had obtained the temperatures of each of the asychronous regions for the first few testbenches as well as the temperatures for the synchronous processor, or so I thought. Later I realized that I had misinterpreted Emil's directions on how to obtain sample power profiles for each of the testbenches, and on top of that, Emil found out he gave me the wrong c file for the synchronous processor simulations. Thus I had to rerun the simulations for synchronous, and even though I didn't have to, I reran them for GALS as well, this time using Emil's intended method for obtaining sample profiles. That's why I was almost behind schedule this week. Now I have the results which, honestly, aren't as supportive of GALS as I would have liked. Half of the testbenches show improved performance, while the other half show worsened performance, and that is if voltage scaling is included. The only way to give GALS a clearer advantage is to factor in power leakage, although the temperature profiles between GALS and synchronous are probably not different enough to contribute too much of a difference in leakage. We'll see what Diana has to say about this during today's conference call.

Not much else happened this week besides the weekly group lunch held on Wednesday. Chinese, or "imitation Chinese" as I like to call it, was on the menu this time. I asked for shrimp in garlic sauce, and the moment I bit in I regretted my decision (although I doubt the other options would have been much better). People here need to learn that layering mounds of soy sauce over a dish does not make it Chinese food. It would be nice if we could hold these luncheons outside; eating in a conference room sort of puts people in a sober mood.

Week 9: July 18-22

Hi all, I'm behind in my work again. ARgh. During this week's conference call, Diana realized that she forgot to tell me to normalize the temperatures to the hottest region of the processor instead of the rename region. So that means I had to rerun my simulations AGAIN. Ahahah I think I'm going crazy. As for my final report, I kept putting it off until today. =( But at least I managed to finish my introduction, yay! I think the hardest part is getting started.

Fun things I did or will do this week: Watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on IMAX with my roommates. Johnny Depp is hilarious as always, although I thought the ending dragged a bit. And tonight I'm going to hear the Pittsburgh Orchestra, which I heard is top 5 in the nation, perform the Lord of the Rings soundtrack at Heinz Hall. Billy Boyd (one of the hobbits) is going to make a guest appearance and sing, too. Sorry for the rushed journal entry but I gotta get dressed for the concert now! Bye!

Week 10: July 25-29

Since this is my last journal entry, I guess you're all expecting to read something gushy or maybe profound? Well, let's see if anything of that nature inspires me in the next few minutes.

This week went by really fast, and I suspect it was because I spent a good portion of it engrossed in writing my final report. Unfortunately, the professor hasn't given me feedback on it yet since she's stranded somewhere in Athens putting up with flight attendants on strike, although I could imagine her reaction to my paper-- something along the lines of "These results don't support my theory... Could you redo the simulations?" Or she could just come to terms with GALS not being a better design than synchronous. I'm hoping for the latter.

I think this week has been especially busy for everyone. Emil and Koushik have been finishing up their theses, and Natasa just got back from her month-long vacation so she had some catching up to do. Since everyone was so wrapped up in his/her own work, I was actually looking forward to Wednesday's group lunch as a chance to lighten up and appreciate our last social event together. It didn't exactly work out that way though. First off, the burritos ordered for us fell apart easily so a lot of us just gave up eating our lunches entirely. Then when Natasa noticed no one was eating, she jokingly asked "So now what? We just sit here and do nothing for the next half hour?" which prompted everyone to get up and leave earlier than I would have liked. I suppose they all have their minds elsewhere.

In any case, I'll definitely miss them all. I'm really glad I got the chance to meet these grad students, listen to their advice, and get to know each of them on a personal level too. Looking back, I'm astounded by how many first time experiences I've had this summer: It was my first time living on the East coast, first time away from home for 10 weeks straight (I know, I'm a momma's girl), first research experience, first conference, first trip to NYC, and first realization that grad students have lives while undergrads don't, hehe. I still don't know whether I'm more suited for academia or industry; they each have their own benefits and drawbacks. Nevertheless, I feel that these 10 weeks have given me the mindset for grad school as well as a boost in self confidence, and I have Professor Marculescu to thank for that. Lastly, I want to thank my family for their endless words of encouragement, and most importantly, the plane ticket to NYC lol.

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