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Thread: Looking for low-level x86 assembly language and/or C development work

  1. #1

    Default Looking for low-level x86 assembly language and/or C development work

    Does anyone know of any low-level x86 assembly language and/or C (real procedural C not the object-oriented crap) development jobs. I did this in the 90s and have a lot of experience in this area including work as the lead developer of PC DOS 7 and a PC BIOS engineer. I would love to go back to doing this sort of development.

  2. #2

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    Does anyone use assembly language in the industry anymore ? I guess I'm an exception but I always enjoyed assembly language programming and would love to go back to doing that professionally.

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    It's not even used much on microprocessors any more, but for the very low-end ($.03 each) stuff. But in the medium-to-high level MCU world, there's certainly a lot of C running around (there is a small Ada movement also). But for MCUs, it's not so much the language as it's familiarity with the hardware, which varies considerably between manufacturers, even though the basic ARM ISA is shared.

    So you might look into MCU programming.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    It's not even used much on microprocessors any more, but for the very low-end ($.03 each) stuff. But in the medium-to-high level MCU world, there's certainly a lot of C running around (there is a small Ada movement also). But for MCUs, it's not so much the language as it's familiarity with the hardware, which varies considerably between manufacturers, even though the basic ARM ISA is shared.

    So you might look into MCU programming.
    What about the mainframe world ? I used to be a VM systems programmer, granted I'm aware that mainframe architecture has progressed since I did it (it was System/370 and System/370 XA when I did it and is zArchitecture now) but I still remember stuff about it and even have some of my old VM programs archived so I could get back up to speed. I also did some MVS at the time but I was mostly a VM guy.

    I guess x86 assembly is a total loss now. It seems like the last thing done in assembly language was PC BIOS which ended once PCs switched to UEFI. I would imagine the CSM code must be in assembly language but even that is slated to go away this year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcdosretro View Post
    I guess x86 assembly is a total loss now.
    There are very, very niche applications for x86 assembly still, such as compiler design (mostly dominated by free software), and graphics drivers.
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    I suppose niche clients might be a possibility with some old hardware with code that needs tweaking, but they must be pretty thin on the ground by now. The last big push was for Y2K issues and that was more than 20 years ago.

    The underlying cause of the shift is probably good old Moore's law. Instead of spending time squeezing cycles out of code (we did a lot of that in the old days--I probably still can time CDC 6600 code from memory), one can just throw cheap silicon at the problem. Compilers have also gotten a lot smarter. Shared code has also loomed very large.

    If you want pure C and assembly, embedded systems are probably the best place to investigate. That might include things such as industrial PLCs.

  7. #7

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    Kind of off topic, but you should tell us about your PC DOS 7 and BIOS experience sometime. (A lot of us would find it interesting.)

    Were you at VCF West in 2016 or 2017? I met a gentlemen there who worked on PC DOS 7 and I'm wondering if it was you. (I was working at the show as part of the VCF staff. We were talking near the consignment area.)


    Mike

  8. #8

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    The problem for me getting into the embedded world is that I have no electronics experience, I'm purely a software guy so they aren't interested. I've tried looking into that to no avail.

    If old-style programming is still done in the mainframe world then I would certainly consider going back to that but I don't know anyone in that arena so I don't how to possibly transition back to that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcdosretro View Post
    The problem for me getting into the embedded world is that I have no electronics experience, I'm purely a software guy so they aren't interested. I've tried looking into that to no avail.

    If old-style programming is still done in the mainframe world then I would certainly consider going back to that but I don't know anyone in that arena so I don't how to possibly transition back to that.
    My advice would be to go online and get on the federal job register. The feds are always looking for people with programming experience. Also, you don't have to be a hardware guru but it helps to be able to take something apart and put it back together.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbbrutman View Post
    Kind of off topic, but you should tell us about your PC DOS 7 and BIOS experience sometime. (A lot of us would find it interesting.)

    Were you at VCF West in 2016 or 2017? I met a gentlemen there who worked on PC DOS 7 and I'm wondering if it was you. (I was working at the show as part of the VCF staff. We were talking near the consignment area.)


    Mike
    I was at VCF West for both of those shows so it was likely me as I recall mentioning that I worked on PC DOS 7 to someone in the consignment area. I didn't make it to the last two shows though.

    Here's what I did on PC DOS 7 - https://sites.google.com/site/pcdosretro/dosmods

    I also worked on adapting Phoenix BIOS (which was a huge mess) and General Software Embedded BIOS to specific hardware and I've seen the old Award 4.51 PG codebase and of course the IBM PC family BIOSes as well as the AT&T PC 6300 BIOS (also listed in a technical reference manual). Unlike most people I truly enjoy assembly language programming and see it as easy and fairly straightforward.

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