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Computer Science Syllabus - Computer Design
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Computer Design

Lecturer: Dr S.W. Moore

No. of lectures: 16

Prerequisite courses: none, but Operating Systems, Digital Electronics and ECAD would be helpful

This course is a prerequisite for the Part II courses Comparative Architectures and VLSI Design.


The aims of this course are to introduce the hardware/software interface models and the hardware structures used in designing computers. The first seven lectures are concerned with the hardware/software interface and cover the programmer's model of the computer. The last nine lectures look at hardware implementation issues at a register transfer level.


  • Introduction to the course and some background history.

  • Historic machines. EDSAC versus Manchester Mark I.

  • Introduction to RISC processor design and the ARM instruction set.

  • ARM tools and code examples.

  • Operating system support including memory hierarchy and management.

  • Intel x86 instruction set.

  • Java Virtual Machine.

  • Memory hierarchy (caching).

  • Executing instructions. An algorithmic viewpoint.

  • Basic processor hardware. Pipelining and data paths.

  • Extending the ARM pipeline including load and branch delay slots.

  • Implementation of a MIPS processor [3 lectures].

  • Internal and external communication.

  • Data-flow and comments on future directions.


At the end of the course students should

  • be able to read assembler given a guide to the instruction set and be able to write short pieces of assembler if given an instruction set or asked to invent an instruction set

  • understand the differences between RISC and CISC assembler

  • understand what facilities a processor provides to support operating systems, from memory management to software interrupts

  • understand memory hierarchy including different cache structures

  • appreciate the use of pipelining in processor design

  • understand the communications structures, from buses close to the processor, to peripheral interfaces

  • have an appreciation of control structures used in processor design

  • have an appreciation of how to implement a processor in Verilog

Recommended reading

* Hennessy, J.L. & Patterson, D.A. (2002). Computer architecture: a quantitative approach. Morgan Kaufmann (3rd ed.). (2nd ed., 1996, is also good.)
Patterson, D.A. & Hennessy, J.L. (2004). Computer organization and design. Morgan Kaufmann (3rd ed., as an alternative to the above). (2nd ed., 1998, is also good.)

Pointers to sources of more specialist information are included in the lecture notes and on the associated course web page.

next up previous contents
Next: Concurrent Systems and Applications Up: Michaelmas Term 2006: Part Previous: Algorithms II   Contents
Christine Northeast
Tue Sep 12 09:56:33 BST 2006