CS A448: Computer Architecture

Course Syllabus, Fall 2010 Textbook

Course Description:  This course is aimed toward more advanced issues in computer architecture.  Students should already be familiar with the basic concepts of memory hierarchies, instruction set design, and the instruction cycle.  We will examine fundamental principles in the design of instruction sets and CPU components and quantitatively measure the performance of different architectures.  Pipelining, instruction-level parallelism, and issues with multiprocessing will be covered.  The second half of the course will focus on GPU programming with the CUDA architecture using an nVidia Tesla machine.  Students will research and give a presentation in the last week of class on a recent issue in computer architecture or present a CUDA project.

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

Homework Assignments:    Due online via BlackBoard.  There will be approximately five homework assignments but this may change. Late homework will be penalized by 10% per day late, up to the day that answers are provided. We will typically go over answers the next week (but not always). Unless otherwise indicated, programming assignments and written assignments must represent your own work. It is permissible to discuss the assignments with other students, but do not disclose the solution.

Questions: If you have any questions, feel free to come in to my office.  In general, I have an open door policy -- if I am available in my office, you are welcome to come by.  An even better way to reach me is through email.  I check my email frequently and you should receive a response quickly.  Email is preferred over telephone and you will probably receive a faster response since I don't check voicemail very frequently.  You can also contact me online via ICQ, AIM, or MSN Messenger (see contact info on the home page).  I'm often up late and will be glad to answer questions if I'm available! 

Exams: Including the final, there will be two exams.  The midterm will cover several chapters of the books while the final exam may include any material that was covered in the course, but will emphasize the new material. Unless prior arrangements are made no make-up exams will be given. Since you will be tested upon your critical thinking and problem solving skills and not your ability to memorize formula, these exams will be open-book and open-notes. Cheating on assignments and exams will not be tolerated.

Grading:  Exams will be graded and returned to you. Grades will be posted according to randomly assigned numbers on the web site throughout the semester.

Grading breakdown:

HHomeworks:  50%   (all homeworks are worth an equal amount)
Exam 1:         25%
Final:             25%

The grade scale is shown in the table below.  The grading curve may be lowered if necessary but it will not be raised.  This means that if you received an 89% then you will at least get a B+, but may receive a higher grade based on the curve.  (Final grades don't include a + or -).

An incomplete grade will only be given for a valid excuse (e.g. medical, death in the family). An incomplete grade does not let you take the class over again, your final grade will be assigned based on work submitted in class and work that remains to be submitted.

Cheating: Students are expected to uphold the UAA standard of conduct relating to academic dishonesty outlined in the UAA catalog and student handbook.  Cheating is not tolerated and constitutes grounds for dismissal.  For this class, it is permissible and encouraged to assist classmates in general discussions of how to attack the homework problems. It is not permissible to copy another's work (or portions of it) and represent it as your own.