Computer Systems Impact

Examples of impact stemming from research conducted under the theme of Computer Systems.

Novel fuzz testing approaches for the Android Runtime

Researchers from ICSA have collaborated with ARM to produce a novel binary fuzz testing tool, named DexFuzz.  Motivated by their observation that traditional fuzz testing was ineffective on binary-encoded compiler intermediate representations, the researchers invented a suite of techniques to significantly increase the coverage of test cases, and were able to discover over 30 times more bugs than a generic testing tool could in the same time period.  DexFuzz was employed by Google to successfully change the specifications for their Android Runtime (ART) system, which underpins 2.5 billion smartphones worldwide.

Code size optimisation for smartphone chipsets

World-leading smartphone chip manufacturer Qualcomm have commercialised a compiler tool produced by researchers in ICSA. In Qualcomm’s flagship modem and WiFi chipsets, the tool reduces firmware code size by up to 12%, enabling the company to enhance the functionality of their chips whilst minimising their size and energy consumption. One of the most significant improvements enabled by the ICSA technology is the addition of 5G capability: to date the compiler tool has been employed in over 175 million 5G handsets worldwide.

NextGenIO persistent memory layer

Researchers in EPCC have collaborated with Intel and Fujitsu to produce a ground-breaking novel architecture for high performance computing (HPC) platforms. Named NEXTGenIO, the system can be used for data-intensive applications requiring exceptionally high levels of data throughput and storage. The prototype has been commercialised by Fujitsu in their new HPC server lines, which have formed the basis of supercomputers in multiple organisations worldwide used in applications such as COVID-19 vaccine development, and the prediction of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity.

Low-power embedded processor design

Work by researchers in ICSA on automating the design of embedded processors resulted in a prototype low-power processor and an ultra-high-speed simulation tool enabling custom processor design by companies. Both technologies were licenced by leading IP developer Synopsys, where they laid the foundations of a long series of processor products. With Synopsys clients including 10 of the world’s top 15 semiconductor companies, 2 billion processors building on Edinburgh research are shipped annually.

Security vulnerability in Fitbit devices

Researchers from ICSA have exposed the vulnerability of Fitbit fitness tracker devices to data manipulation and data theft by hackers. They subsequently made recommendations to Fitbit to improve their device security, prompting Fitbit to develop software patches to enhance the security of their 11 susceptible devices.  The ICSA team's work has helped raise awareness of IoT vulnerabilities more generally, and the security recommendations made can be applied to other health-related IoT devices. 


More detail of impact in other Informatics research themes can be found on the Research Impact page.

Informatics Research Impact