CSCI 680: Parallel Computer Architecture, Spring 2017

General Information


Students are expected to have a good understanding of the basic computer organization and design, especially of the topics covered by CS 424-524, Computer Architecture. Please talk to the instructor if you do not satisfy this requirement.

Course Materials

Most of the material will be based on the research papers. However, the following optional textbook is recommended: Computer Architecture, Fifth Edition: A Quantitative Approach

Course Description

This course provides an in-depth understanding of the fundamental principles and design trade-offs involved in designing modern parallel computing architectures​.​ ​We will also discuss a range of latest papers that have appeared in leading international journals and conferences​ to understand ​​​​research issues associated with parallel computing​ systems​. Students are expected to read a variety of ​research ​papers, critique them and present them in the front of the class. In addition, students are expected to complete a ​semester-long research project​, and take a final exam.

Grade Distribution

Discussion Forum, Announcements, and Submissions

(I) Paper Critiques and Homeworks

All students are required to submit a detailed critique for each paper we discuss in the class. However, the student who presents the paper in-class is not allowed to submit the critique for that particular paper. Deadline for critique submission is one week from when the paper is discussed completely in the class. Please submit any TEN critiques.

Submission Format: Each critique should not exceed one-page and must consists of four sections: 1) paper summary (2-3 lines), 2) strengths (2-3 lines), 3) weaknesses (2-3 lines), and 4) detailed comments (rest of the page). More details are already discussed in class and associated slides are submitted to the box folder (shared with students).

In addition to critiques, instructor may assign some homeworks as well.

You are encouraged to discuss the papers and homeworks with each other but should write critiques on your own.

(II) In-Class Presentations

Each student will present a maximum of two papers throughout the semester. If you plan to audit the course, you are required to present at least one paper. When you present a paper, be prepared to answer a variety of questions asked by the instructor or other fellow students. The goal is to make class lively. A list of papers will be provided to students. They can choose from that list or come up with their own suggestions. Suggestions would need approval from the instructor.

I expect students to first present necessary background and then paper details. The remaining time will be for discussion driven by the fellow students and the instructor. After your presentation is complete, send your final slides to the class on Piazza.

During each student presentation, each student (except the presenter) needs to fill the student feedback form. The form is available here. Please make sure you have a hard copy of it for every student presentation.

(III) Semester-Long Research Project

Students are expected to perform a semester-long research project. All projects need to be approved by the instructor. Please contact the instructor early to brainstorm potential project ideas.

Project Timeline

(IV) Final Exam

A comprehensive final exam will be conducted in the finals week (May 1, Monday, 9AM to noon in McGL 002). It will cover all the topics covered in the class, including the content covered by the discussed research papers.

General Areas for In-class Presentations and Projects

Reading List and Other Resources

Semester Schedule (Will be updated regularly)

Date Agenda Notes
Jan 18  Administrativia and Introductions
Jan 23  Overview of General Comp. Arch. Research Issues
Jan 25   Overview of Accelerators
Jan 30   Overview of Approximate Computing
Feb 1   Overview of Emerging Memory Technology
Feb 6   HPCA Conference
Feb 8   HPCA Conference
Feb 13   Project topic presentations
Feb 15   Overview of Data center research issues
Feb 20   Overview of Mobile research issues
Feb 22   Overview of Reliability and Security research issues
Feb 27   Multiple GPU Application Execution and HW#1 Discussions HW#1 is due
March 1   Non-traditional Architectures
March 6   Spring break
March 8   Spring break
March 13th  Presenter: Tristan Vernon, Papers: [P1] and [P2]  
March 15th  Presenter: Yiyang Zhao, Papers: [P3] and [P4] Review due
March 20th  Presenter: Fangli Xu, Papers: [P5] and [P6] Review due
March 22th  Presenter: Linnan Wang, Papers: [P7] and [P8] Review due
March 27th  Presenter: Project Milestone Presentations Review due
March 29th  Presenter: Alex Powell, Papers: [P9] and [P10] Review due
April 3rd  Presenter: Xiaoran Peng, Papers: [P11] and [P12] Review due
April 5th  Presenter: Corey Ames, Papers: [P13] and [P14] Review due
April 10th  Presenter: Mohamed Ibrahim, Papers: [P15] and [P16] Review due
April 12th  Presenter: Hongyuan Liu, Papers: [P17] and [P18] Review due
April 17th  Presenter: Andrew Sprague, Papers: [P19] and [P20] Review due
April 19th  Presenter: Gurunath Kadam, Papers: [P21] and [P22] Review due
April 24th  Final Project and Exam Discussions Review due
April 26th  Final Project and Exam Discussions Review due
May 1  Final Exam, Monday, 9 AM to 12:00 noon, McGL 002 Review due


Academic Accommodations

It is the policy of The College of William and Mary to accommodate students with disabilities and qualifying diagnosed conditions in accordance with federal and state laws. Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a learning, psychiatric, physical, or chronic health diagnosis should contact Student Accessibility Services staff at 757-221-2509 or at to determine if accommodations are warranted and to obtain an official letter of accommodation. For more information, please click here.

Honor Code

Students are required to follow the Honor System of the College of William and Mary.