Welcome to Computer Architecture, taught by Prof. Michael Taylor with Luis Vega.

Course Overview


Many weeks there are assigned readings. You should read all of the papers that are assigned very carefully.

As to the textbook, it is a great outline of the many topics in computer architecture. But it is really freaking long.

I would read it so that you understand the terms and key insights, and for project ideas. No need to remember any machine-specific details (i.e., size of Core i7-6900K cache) or numbers (gcc is 2X faster with a 32KB L1 cache).

I would read it quickly, and quickly jot down the following:

Then after you read the section, quiz yourself on those items, and you are done.

I would skip the "Pitfalls and Falacies" and skip/skim "Concluding Remarks" or "Historical Perspective". =)

Schedule subject to change and evolving over time!

Date Topic & Readings HW
March 28 (W)


  • Start thinking about a project
  • Form a group
  • HW 0 out
March 30 (F)

Technology, ISA

  • Chapter 1 of Hennessey and Patterson (HP)

  • Review Appendix A of HP (ISA)

  • Technology

April 4 (W)

Technology / Metrics

  • Review Appendix C of HP

  • Chapter 3.1-3.3 of HP

  • Chapter 3.9 (p228-334 only)

April 6 (F)


April 11 (W)

Memory Hierarchy / Virtual Memory

  • Review Appendix B of HP (Memory Hierarchy)

  • Chapter 2 of HP (Mo' Memory)

April 13 (F)

Cache Coherence / Memory Consistency

April 18 (W)

Dynamic Scheduling - Chapter 3.4-3.7 of HP

April 20 (F)

FPGAs in the Cloud (TBA, Microsoft)

April 25 (W)

GPU Architecture and Trends (Brad Beckman, AMD)

April 27 (F)

Computer architecture, A balancing act (Bobbie Manne, Cavium)

  • Project Proposal Due
May 2 (W)

Dynamic Scheduling / Multithreading

  • Chapter 3.8-3.13 of HP

May 4 (F)

SmartNICs in the Public Cloud (Andrew Putnam, Microsoft Research)

  • HW 2 Due
May 9 (W)

3D integration (Gabriel Loh, AMD Fellow)

  • TBD.

May 11 (F)

Compilers Plus Arch (Aaron Smith, Microsoft)

  • TBD.

May 16 (W)

ADA Annual Review

  • TBD.

May 18 (F)


May 23 (W)

Domain Specific Architectures (Neural Networks!)

  • Chapter 7 of HP (Domain Specific Architectures)

May 25 (F)


May 30 (W)

CMOS Scaling / Dark Silicon / Hardware Specialization

Jun 1 (F)

Warehouse-scale Computing, FPGA Clouds, ASIC Clouds

  • Project Due
Jun 4 (M)

Project presentation (in-class) time 8:30am - 10:20am