Thursday, January 17, 2008

Heavyweight match

I just finished running an engine match between the 64-bit versions of Cake and KingsRow. Cake managed a narrow win, but what makes even happier is that the entire engine match ran without problems, i.e. CB64 and Cake64 and KingsRow64 are all stable enough to run for 12 hours without any errors. I will probably publish the 64-bit versions in a couple of weeks.

As an aside, I got so annoyed with Windows Vista UAC (user account control) popping up TWO message boxes to confirm when I just want to rename a file that I ended up disabling UAC. I really wonder what the MS guys were thinking when they invented this feature. One message box for renaming a file would already be a huge PITA, but two... I guess the only people who don't disable UAC are those who don't know how to do it!

Some more Vista madness: I also noticed that by default my system was set to defragment its harddisk daily, run a full virus check daily, and run the pretty much useless Windows Defender. My system (a QuadCore with 4GB RAM) used to access the harddisk permanently for about 15-30 minutes after the system start. With all this stuff disabled, it is much better. In my quest for energy efficiency, I bought an 80+ power supply (, which is not only energy efficient but also very silent (it only generates little heat and thus needs less ventilation than a standard power supply). However, with a loudish harddisk I didn't have any benefit of that. Now I do :-)

Monday, January 14, 2008

64-bit speedups

I tried to find out how much performance increase a 64-bit compile will give compared to the 32-bit compile. I tested three different programs: my Connect 4, Cake and KingsRow. I also have a speedup reported by Ed Gilbert for his international checkers program, KingsRow-10. Here are the numbers:

  • KingsRow: 5.8%
  • Cake: 6.4%
  • Connect 4: 11.6%
  • KingsRow-10: 42.9%

This list shows that all programs are able to benefit from the 64-bit compile, although the gain is rather moderate for all programs except KingsRow-10. Why can some programs benefit more than others? Probably this has to do with how much they make use of 64-bit operations. For example, my Connect 4 program uses a 64-bit representation of the board. KingsRow and Cake use 32-bit representations and don't really have any use for the larger word size on the 64-bit machine. KingsRow-10 on the other hand also uses 64-bit numbers for its board representation and benefits much more than any other program on the list.

With all these numbers I have to add that there are some points to be considered: The KingsRow 32/64-bit versions don't seem to search the exact same tree - in kN/s searched, KR-64 was 5.8% faster, but its search time was only 2.6% lower. Additionally, KR wasn't using the endgame database during this test, since it doesn't recognize it for some reason on my system. Cake 32/64 searches exactly the same number of nodes on the one-minute search I used for this test. Cake32 makes use of some assembler instructions which Cake64 does not, so probably the speed difference would be a bit larger if I found out how to program these functions in 64-bit assembler. The same is true for Connect 4 (For the experts: I don't have a LSB function in assembler for the 64-bit versions).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cake 64

I recently bought a new motherboard/CPU for the computer that was generating the opening book database for Cake. My new machine is the most powerful I ever had, with a Core Quad and 4 GB of RAM. For curiosity's sake, I also installed Windows Vista on that machine. I'm not at all convinced by Microsoft's new OS, but at least it gives me the opportunity to finally run my 64-bit compiles myself. Thanks to this, I found the bug in the 64-bit version of Cake, and of course it was a 32/64-bit issue. I was computing the size of a memory block full of pointers for the endgame database with

char *pointer;
int memsize = blocknum * sizeof(int);
pointer = malloc(memsize);

since I had assumed that sizeof(int) would change to 8 byte on the 64-bit machine. But it stayed at 4 bytes, while pointers do need 8 bytes, and of course the whole thing crashed. I replaced the sizeof(int) with sizeof(pointer) and now it works. It appears that this was the only portability issue; I now have a working 64-bit version of Cake on my machine. By a strange coincidence I clocked it to be 6.4% faster than the 32-bit version.