Topics in Computer Architecture, Fall 2015 (CS 780 / CS 680)

General Information


Students are expected to have a good understanding of the basic computer organization and design. Please talk to the instructor if you do not satisfy this requirement.

Course Description

This is a seminar-type graduate course, where we will discuss research papers on many different topics (e.g., cache or memory systems, scheduling, resource management, micro-architecture, emerging technologies/architectures) in the broad areas of computer architecture and systems. Students are expected to read a variety of papers, critique them, and present them in the front of the class. In addition, students are expected to complete a semester-long research project.

Grade Distribution


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 required 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 them in the PDF format.

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).

To learn the background material related to each new topic, some homeworks will also be given.

No collaboration is allowed on critiques and homeworks.

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 two papers. 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.

In-Class Paper Presentations: I expect students to first present necessary background (~15 minutes) and then paper details (~25 minutes). The remaining time will be for discussion driven by the fellow students and the instructor.

Semester-Long Research Project

Students are expected to perform a semester-long research project. All projects need to be approved by the instructor. Students can work in groups if they wish, but not more than 2 students are allowed to be in a single group. If two people choose to work on the same project, the instructor will need a list of individual contributions made by each of you two, when you submit your final report. Please contact the instructor early to brainstorm potential project ideas.

Project Timeline

Areas for In-class Presentations and Projects

Only for In-Class Presentations: Ideally, the instructor wants every​ ​student to choose a different topic for in-class presentations. To achieve this, the instructor asks for three topic preferences (in order) from every student. Deadline to give preferences (via email) is Sept 22

Only for Project: Students are free to choose any project topic area(s). Their project can also cross different topics. Again, please contact the instructor early to brainstorm potential project ideas. Deadline to determine project topic area is also Sept 22

Reading List and Other Resources

Semester Schedule

Date Agenda Notes
Aug 27  Administrativia and Introductions HW 0 Out
Sep 1  Overview: Core Design, Memory Systems, and Near Data Computing. HW 0 Due, HW1 Out
Sep 3  Overview: Simulators, Accelerators (contd.). Sep 4 is add/drop deadline
Sep 8  Overview: Accelerators (contd.), Approx Computing  
Sep 10  Overview: Approx Computing, Emerging Memory Technology  
Sep 15  Overview: Mobile Architectures HW1 Due
Sep 17  Overview: Data Center Architectures  
Sep 22  Overview: Security and Reliability Project Determination and In-Class Presentation Topic Selection Deadline
Sep 24  Presenter: James Bieron, Paper: [P1] In-class Presentations Start
Sep 29  Presenter: Shengye Wan, Paper: [P2]  
Oct 1  Presenter: Qingsen Wang, Paper: [P3] Critique [P1] Due
Oct 6  Presenter: Rongdong Chai, Paper: [P4] Instructor on Travel, Critique [P2] Due
Oct 8  Class Canceled, Instead watch this video on "You and Your Research" by Richard Hamming Instructor on Travel, Critique [P3] Due
Oct 13  No Class, Fall Break  
Oct 15  Presenter: Haonan Wang, Paper: [P5] Critique [P4] Due
Oct 17  Presenter: Lihua Ren, Paper: [P6]  
Oct 22  Presenter: Fan Luo, Paper: [P7] Critique [P5] Due
Oct 24  Presenter: Ruiqin Tian, Paper: [P8] Critique [P6] Due
Oct 27  Presenter: Lele Ma, Paper: [P9] Critique [P7] Due
Nov 3  Presenter: Bin Nie, Paper: [P10] Critique [P8] Due
Nov 5  Presenter: Yiqiang Lin, Paper: [P11] Critique [P9] Due
Nov 10  Presenters: Jamie Bieron and Shengye Wan, Papers: [P12] and [P13] Critique [P10] Due
Nov 12  Presenters: Qingsen Wang and Rongdong Chai, Papers: [P14] and [P15] Critique [P11] Due
Nov 17  Presenters: Haonan Wang and Lihua Ren, Papers: [P16] and [P17]  
Nov 19  Presenters: Fan Luo and Ruiqin Tian, Papers: [P18] and [P19]  
Nov 24  Presenters: Lele Ma and Bin Nie, Papers: [P20] and [P21]  
Nov 26  No Class, Thanks giving break  
Dec 1  Presenter: Yiqiang Lin, Paper: [P22]. Project Discussions  
Dec 3  Project Discussions Final Project Report is due on Dec 11


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.