|Instructor:||Todd C. Mowry, WeH 8123, 268-3725, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|TA:||Angela Demke Brown, WeH 3711, 268-1557, email@example.com|
|Class Administrator:||Maury Burgwin, WeH 8124, 268-4740, firstname.lastname@example.org|
This course attempts to provide a deep understanding of the issues and challenges involved in designing and implementing modern computer systems. Our primary goal is to help students become more skilled in their use of computer systems, including the development of applications and system software. Users can benefit greatly from understanding how computer systems work, including their strengths and weaknesses. This is particularly true in developing applications where performance is an issue.
The course material is divided evenly into two parts. The first half of the course covers systems based on a single processor, closely following the Hennessy and Patterson textbook. The second half of the course covers parallel systems containing multiple processors, with topics ranging from programming models to hardware realizations. The material for this latter half of the course can be found to some extent in the Hennessy and Patterson book, but is treated in much greater detail in the Culler, Singh and Gupta text.
An addition to our ``user-centric'' (vs. ``builder-centric'') approach, the course has several other themes. One theme is to emphasize the role of evolving technology in setting the directions for future computer systems. Computer systems, more than any other field of computer science, has had to cope with the challenges of exploiting the rapid advances in hardware technology. Hardware that is either technologically infeasible or prohibitively expensive in one decade, such as bitmapped full color displays or gigabyte disk drives, becomes consumer products in the next. Technology that seems to have a bright future, such as magnetic bubble memories, never becomes competitive. Others, such as CMOS, move from being a niche technology to becoming dominant. In addition, computer systems must evolve to support changes in software technology, including advances in languages and compilers, operating systems, as well as changing application requirements. Rather than teaching a set of facts about current (but soon obsolete) technology, we therefore stress general principles that can track evolving technology.
Another theme of the course is that ``hands-on'' exercises generally provide more insight regarding system behavior than paper-and-pencil exercises. Hence our assignments involve programming and using computer systems, although in a variety of different ways.
Finally, rather than stopping with state-of-the-art in computer architecture as of a decade ago, another theme of this course is looking at the state-of-the-art today as well as open research problems that are likely to shape systems in the future. Hence we will be discussing recent papers on architecture research in class, and students will perform a significant research project.
This course is not intended to be your first course on computer architecture or organization; it is geared toward students who have already had such a course as undergraduates. For example, we expect that people are already at least somewhat familiar with assembly language programming, pipelining, and memory hierarchies. If you have not had such a course already, then it is still possible to take this course provided that you are willing to spend some additional time catching up on your own. If you feel uncertain about whether you have adequate preparation, please discuss this with the instructor.
In addition to an undergraduate computer organization course, here are some other topics which are helpful for this course (references are included for self study):
Students who have already taken graduate-level courses in computer architecture or parallel architecture may find that some of this course material is familiar. Although the course topics (especially in the first half of the course) may look familiar even to students who have taken an undergraduate computer architecture course, this course is designed to build on undergraduate material, and will cover this topics in much greater depth. It is likely that the focus and style of this course will be different from what you have experienced before, and that the pace will be fast enough that you will not be bored. However, if you feel strongly that you should be able to ``place out'' of all or part of this course, contact the instructor.
Grades will be based on homeworks, a research project, two exams, and class participation.
To pass this course, you are expected to demonstrate competence in the major topics covered in the course. Your overall grade is determined as follows:
|Exams:||40% (20% each)|
Late assignments will not be accepted without prior arrangement.
Table 1 shows the tentative schedule. There might be some variations.
|3||9/18||Mon||Instruction Set Comparison||H
||#1 Due, #2 Out||TCM|
|6||9/25||Mon||Superscalar Processing Concepts||H
|7||9/27||Wed||Superscalar Processing Practice||H
|8||9/29||Fri||The Memory Hierarchy||H
|9||10/2||Mon||Programming for Performance||ADB|
|11||10/6||Fri||Recent Research on Uniprocessors I||Handouts||#2 Due||N/A|
|12||10/9||Mon||Recent Research on Uniprocessors II||Handouts||N/A|
|13||10/13||Fri||Intro to Parallel Architecture||H
|14||10/16||Mon||Parallel Programming I||CSG Ch. 2||TCM|
|15||10/18||Wed||Parallel Programming II||CSG Ch. 3
|10/20||Fri||Mid-Semester Break (No Class)||Project Proposal||N/A|
|10/23||Mon||Mid-Semester Break (No Class)||N/A|
|16||10/25||Wed||Cache Coherence I||CSG Ch. 5||TCM|
|17||10/27||Fri||Cache Coherence II||CSG Ch. 5||TCM|
|18||10/30||Mon||Memory Consistency||CSG Ch. 6||TCM|
|19||11/1||Wed||Synchronization||CSG Ch. 5||ADB|
|20||11/3||Fri||Interconnection Networks||CSG Ch. 10||ADB|
|21||11/6||Mon||Recent Research on Multiprocessors||Handouts||N/A|
|12/11||Mon||Project Poster Session|