CMSC411 (Spring 2021) Computer Systems Architecture


In this course, we will study topics in computer systems architecture. We will first discuss the contents in Appendix A through C of the text (pipelining, instruction set principles, and memory hierarchy). Then, we will switch to other topics such as super-scalar execution, branch prediction, dynamic scheduling, hardware multi-threading, shared memory architecture, and GPU.

The Canvas and Piazza course pages are your best sources for the course information (We will add you to the course Piazza page).


Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C- in CMSC330
Credits: 3

Visit this link for details.

Administrative Information

Textbooks (Required)

Course Topics (Subject to Change)

Following topics will be covered in this course (subject to change).

Course Communication and Office Hours

office hour schedule


Your grades will be computed according the following weights:

Evaluation Components Points
Homework (up to 5) 150 pts
Class Project 150 pts
Quizzes (up to 5) 150 pts
Mid-Term Exam 1 (March 3 (Wednesday)) 150 pts
Mid-Term Exam 2 (April 14 (Wednesday)) 200 pts
Final Exam (May 18 (Tuesday), 6:30pm - 8:30pm) 200 pts
Max. Points Possible 1000 Points

Academic Integrity

Note that academic dishonesty includes not only cheating, fabrication, and plagiarism, but also includes helping other students commit acts of academic dishonesty by allowing them to obtain copies of your work. In short, all submitted work must be your own. Cases of academic dishonesty will be pursued to the fullest extent possible as stipulated by the Office of Student Conduct.

It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. If the student is found to be responsible of academic dishonesty, the typical sanction results in a special grade "XF", indicating that the course was failed due to academic dishonesty. If you have any doubt as to whether an act of yours might constitute academic dishonesty, please contact your TA or the course coordinator.

The CS Department takes academic integrity seriously. Information on how the CS Department views and handle academic integrity matters can be found at Academic Integrity.


On any graded project or lab, you are NOT allowed to collaborate or exchange code. We compare each student's code with every other student's code to check for similarities. Every semester, we catch an embarrassingly high number of students that engage in cheating and we have to take them to the Honor Council.

GroupMe/ Other Group Chats

We encourage students to talk about course material and help each other out in group chats. However, this does NOT include graded assignments. Talking about release tests is NOT okay.

There have been a couple instances in the past where students have posted pictures/source files of their code, or earlier sections have given away exam questions to later sections. Not only did this lower the curve for the earlier section because the later one will do better, the WHOLE group chat had to pay a visit to the Honor Council. It was an extremely ugly business.


You may post your project code to private Github (or similar service) repository, only after the semester ends. The Honor Council can retroactively give an XF (even to students who have already graduated) if your code is then used by another student to cheat. So just be careful. Posting graded code to a public repo will give you a free ticket to the Honor Council.

Study Guides

Creating collaborative study guides on Google docs is OK. Encouraged, even. Just do this before the exam, and don't bring the study guide to the exam. Don't add exam questions to the study guide after the early section's midterm.

A few examples of academic integrity violations

The following are a few examples of academic integrity violations:

Additional information can be found in the sections titled "Academic Integrity" and "Code of Student Conduct" available at Course Related Policies.

For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, visit

Disabilities Support Accommodations

In case academic accommodations are needed, you must provide a letter of accommodation from the Office of Accessibility and Disability Services (ADS) within the first week of the semester. For details, see the section titled "Accessibility" available at Course Related Policies.

Excused Absences

The university allows for self-documentation for some absences. Lectures will be asynchronous but quizzes/exams will be synchronous. If you need to miss a quiz due to your illness (or other reasons), you shall make a reasonable attempt to report at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled quiz day. Send me an email if you have a medical problem. All other planned, execusable absences (e.g., attending a conference supported by the department)must be reported using the absence report feature in the grade server).

You will submit a self-signed note attesting to the date of your illness (or other reasons). Each note must contain an acknowledgment by the student that the information provided is true and correct. Providing false information to University officials is prohibited under Part 9(i) of the Code of Student Conduct (V-1.00(B) University of Maryland Code of Student Conduct) and may result in disciplinary action.

Missing an exam for reasons such as illness, religious observance, participation in required university activities, or family or personal emergency (such as a serious automobile accident or close relative's funeral) will be excused so long as the absence is requested in writing at least 2 days in advance and the student includes documentation that shows the absence qualifies as excused; a self-signed note is not sufficient as exams are Major Scheduled Grading Events. For this class, such events are the final exam and the midterms, which will be given synchronously. For medical absences, you must furnish documentation from the health care professional who treated you. The documentation must verify dates of treatment, clearly recommend the student to be off from all school work and indicate the time frame that the student was unable to meet academic responsibilities. In addition, it must contain the name and phone number of the medical service provider to be used if verification is needed. No diagnostic information will ever be requested. Note that simply being seen by a health care professional does not constitute an excused absence; it must be clear that you were unable to perform your academic duties. For additional details, see the section titled "Attendance, Absences, or Missed Assignments" available at Course Related Policies

Course Evaluations

The department and faculty take student feedback seriously. At the end of the course visit to complete your course evaluations.



All course materials are copyright UMCP, Department of Computer Science © 2021. All rights reserved. Students are permitted to use course materials for their own personal use only. Course materials may not be distributed publicly or provided to others (excepting other students in the course), in any way or format.

Although every effort has been made to be complete and accurate, unforeseen circumstances arising during the semester could require the adjustment of any material given here. Consequently, given due notice to students, the instructor reserves the right to change any information on this syllabus or in other course materials.

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