Syllabus and general information for MC48: Computer Organization (Fall 1996)
MC48 will cover the architecture and organization of computer
hardware. We will look at the MIPS architecture as a representative
modern RISC architecture, and do some assembly language programming
for that architecture. We'll see how numbers are represented within a
computer and how the circuits that perform arithmetic operations on
those numerals are organized. With a high-level overview of digital
logic design to support us, we'll look at how the datapaths and
control circuits of processors are designed, and in particular we'll
look in some depth at pipelined processor design, which is the key
organizational principle at work in most present-day processors.
We'll examine the use of memory hierarchy (cache memory and virtual
memory) to provide the illusion of a large fast memory from the
reality of limited fast memory plus a larger but slower memory. We'll
look at input/output devices and buses, and at parallel computers.
Throughout the course there will be an emphasis on the quantitative
performance characteristics of computer systems; we'll look at the
influence of architecture and organization on performance, and take an
introductory look at the empirical and analytical tools appropriate to
the study of performance. Performance measurement will be one of the
main themes reinforced through the lab assignments; the other will be
assembly language programming.
I will be available in my office (OHS 303) on Wednesdays from 8:00 to
8:50, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:20, on Mondays from
1:30 to 2:20, and by appointment. You may send me electronic mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at extension
7466. I'll try to put any temporary updates to my office hours on my
web page and any long-term updates on my
on-line schedule, so check
there if in doubt.
World Wide Web
All course handouts will be available through my World Wide Web page,
and some supplementary materials such as code to use as a starting
point in assignments may be available there as well. The URL for this
course is http://www.gac.edu/~max/MC48.
Our text will be the beta-test version of the second edition of
Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software
Interface by David A. Patterson and John L. Hennessy, published
by Morgan Kaufmann. This will come out in two volumes; volume one is
in the bookstore now and volume two should be by the time we need it.
Volume two will contain a coupon that allows you to get a free copy of
the real non-beta-test second edition. The use of a beta-test version
means that we can get more up-to-date material (in a fast paced
field), but in exchange have to help the authors find their bugs and
provide them with feedback.
Normally labs will be held on Mondays (and classes on the other four
days), but there are four Thursdays when we'll also be in the lab;
these are marked in the syllabus. We'll also do a class rather than a
lab on the Monday of the last week of classes. Again, this is marked
in the syllabus. Labs will be held in the OHS 326 lab, though we may
need to spill over into the 329 lab a bit for those labs we do
individually. Labs 0 and 5 will actually be special one-day
demonstration experiences not requiring lab reports; only labs 1
through 4 will be ``real labs'' with reports.
The two intra-term exams will be conducted on Thursday, October 10th
and Tuesday, November 19th. The final exam will be as scheduled by
the registrar; tentatively 1pm on Tuesday, December 17th.
Students are encouraged to discuss the course, including issues raised
by the assignments. However, the solutions to assignments
should be individual original work unless otherwise specified. If an
assignment makes you realize you don't understand the material, ask a
fellow student a question designed to improve your understanding,
not one designed to get the assignment done. To do otherwise is to
cheat yourself out of understanding, as well as to be intolerably
Any substantive contribution to your solution by another person or
taken from a publication should be properly acknowledged in writing.
Failure to do so is plagiarism and will necessitate disciplinary
The same standards regarding plagiarism apply to team projects as to
the work of individuals, except that the author is now the entire team
rather than an individual. Anything taken from a source outside the
team should be be properly cited.
One additional issue that arises from the team authorship of
project reports is that all team members must stand behind all reports
bearing their names. All team members have quality assurance
responsibility for the entire project. If there is irreconcilable
disagreement within the team it is necessary to indicate as much in
the reports; this can be in the form of a ``minority opinion'' or
``dissenting opinion'' section where appropriate.
All homework and lab assignments are due at the beginning of class on
the day indicated. Late assignments will be penalized by one ``grade
notch'' (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or fraction
thereof. However, no late assignments will be accepted after graded
assignments are handed back.
If you are too sick to complete an assignment on time, you
will not be penalized. Simply write ``late due to illness'' at the
top of the assignment, sign your name and hand it in. Other circumstances
will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading,
and I will gladly fix it. You may also request reconsideration if I
have been especially unjust.
I will provide you with a letter grade on each homework and lab
assignment and on each test, in addition to the mid-term and final
grades, so that you may keep track of your performance. As a
guideline, the components will contribute in the following proportion
to the final grade:
However, I reserve the right to subjectively adjust your final grade.
Please see me if you have any question how you stand. Class
participation is not graded; however, it allows you to find and repair
the gaps in your understanding before doing the homework or exam, and
thus can dramatically improve your grade.
- 20% lab assignments (4 @ 5% each)
- 40% homework (8 @ 5% each)
- 20% intra-term exams (2 @ 10% each)
- 20% final exam
All homework and lab reports should be readily readable, and should
not presuppose that I already know what you are trying to say. In
Be sure your assignments are always stapled together and that your
name is always on them.
Use full English sentences where appropriate (namely almost
everywhere, including in mathematical proofs or derivations).
Word-process or type your homework if you can. In any case, make sure
it is legible.
Use diagrams, tables, programs, and calculations as supporting
components of English writing, not in isolation. Remember that your
goal is to communicate clearly, and that the appearance of these
technical items plays a role in this communication process.
Please contact me immediately if you have special physical
circumstances, e.g. impaired vision, which may affect the
accessibility of any course components. I will do my best to
facilitate necessary arrangements or resources.
A single number in the reading column means to read that entire
chapter. When a reading is indicated as going to a particular page
number, it means up to the first heading on that page. The same
section number on the next class day then indicates to finish the
This is my best guess as to the rate at which we will cover material.
However, don't be shocked if I have to pass out one or more revised
|9/11||1||Computer abstractions and technology||
|9/12||2.1-2.4||Performance measurement (11:15-11:50)||
|9/13||2.5-2.9||More on performance||
|9/16||Lab 0: Under the hood||
|9/18||3.6-3.7||Procedures and strings in assembly||
|9/19||3.8-3.9||More on assembly programming||
|9/20||3.10-3.11||Assembly programming examples||
|9/23||Lab 1: Elementary assembly programming||
|9/24||3.12-3.15||Yet more on assembly language||
|9/25||4.1-4.4||Two's complement, addition, and
|9/26||4.5||Arithmetic Logic Unit||
|9/30||Lab 1 (continued)||
|10/7||Lab 1 (concludes)||
|10/8||4.9-4.12||More on arithmetic||Lab 1
|10/10||Intra-term exam 1||
|10/14||Lab 2: More advanced assembly programming||
|10/16||5.1-5.2||A simple datapath||
|10/17||5.3-p. 349||A single-cycle processor||
|10/18||5.3||More on the single-cycle processor||
|10/21||Lab 2 (continued)||
|10/22||5.4||A multiple-cycle processor||HW 4
|10/23||More on the multiple-cycle processor||
|10/29||C.1-C.4||Mapping control to hardware||
|10/31||Lab 2 (continued) (a Thursday lab)||
|11/1||6.2||A pipelined datapath||HW 5
|11/4||Lab 2 (concludes)||
|11/11||Lab 3: Measuring instruction-set usage||HW 6
|11/12||6.8-6.9||Superscalar and advanced pipelining||
|11/13||6.10-6.12||More on pipelining||
|11/14||Lab 3 (continued) (a Thursday lab)||
|11/18||Lab 3 (concludes)||
|11/19||Intra-term exam 2||
|11/21||7.3||Cache performance||Lab 3
|11/25||Lab 4: Cache simulation||
|11/27||7.6-7.9||Example memory hierarchies||HW 7
|12/2||Lab 4 (continued)||
|12/5||Lab 4 (concludes) (a Thursday lab)||
|12/9||9.1-9.4||Parallel programming (class instead
of lab)||Lab 4
|12/10||9.5||Bus-based MIMD architectures||
|12/11||9.6-9.10||Network-based MIMD architectures||
|12/12||Lab 5: NOW parallelism demo (a Thursday lab)||
|12/13||Review; catch-up; evaluation||HW 8
|12/17||Final exam, 1pm (tentative)||
Course web site: http://www.gac.edu/~max/MC48
Instructor: Max Hailperin <email@example.com>