Richard L. Sites email <nickname>
Richard (Dick) Sites is a computer architect with a strong background in performance analysis at the hardware/software interface. He was co-architect of the DEC Alpha processors, and has also worked on compilers, VAX binary translation, and execution tracing. He has an interest in international text, including language detection for web pages. Fred Brooks, John Cocke, and Seymour Cray strongly influenced his approach to computer architecture; Don Knuth his approach to CPU performance; and Edward Tufte his approach to displaying dense tracing information. By a fluke of fate, his Erdős Number is 3.


Teaching grad students more about real-world CPU performance, low-overhead tracing, and understanding delays in layers of software and hardware. Better understanding of performance issues at the hardware-software interface. His most recent performance analysis work at Google has included speeding up searches, Gmail, disk server hardware/software, and network interfaces.

I am working on a book about understanding the performance of complex datacenter software.


BS Mathematics, MIT 1969

Master's program(no degree) CS, University of North Carolina 1969-70

PhD Computer Science, Stanford University 1974 (Don Knuth, advisor)


Hertz Fellow, Stanford 1972-73

U.S. National Academy of Engineering 2008

66 United States patents, hardware and software


August 2019 - Visiting Professor at University of North Carolina for Fall semester

April 2019 - Visiting Professor at Stanford University for Spring quarter

March 2018 - October 2018 Consultant, Tesla Motors

July 2017 - December 2017 Visiting Professor, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

July 2016 - December 2016 Visiting Professor, National University of Singapore

2004 - May 2016 Google, User-facing latency analysis, tracing CPU/network/disk, language detection.

1997 - 2004 Adobe Systems, Acrobat first e-book, Photoshop image metadata

1980 - 1996 Digital Equipment, VAX microcode, Alpha architecture, binary translation, address tracing

1976 - 1980 University of California/San Diego, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Pre-1976 IBM,  Burroughs, Hewlett-Packard, Los Alamos (student and summer jobs)

Favorite computers/architectures: IBM 1401, Stretch, 7094, S/360, Cray-1, DEC Alpha

First program: Summer 1959, Pascal's triangle on vacuum-tube ORACLE machine

Link to selected papers, talks (roughly newer to older) Recent:

Datacenter Computers: Modern Challenges in CPU Design (invited talk, UNC Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series 2015)