Computer Laboratory > Teaching > Course material 2008–09 > Comparative Architectures


Comparative Architectures

Principal lecturer: Dr Robert Mullins
Taken by: Part II
Past exam questions


This course provides an introduction to contemporary microprocessor design. It describes how it has been possible to translate advances in CMOS fabrication technology into spectacular improvements in microprocessor performance. The course investigates and contrasts the key architectural techniques that have been exploited over the past 30 years. Looking forward, we discuss the limits of uniprocessor performance and the challenges industry and academia currently face in making the transition to parallel computing.

Lectures and Supervisions

Complete set of lecture notes (PDF)
Supervision Worksheet (PDF)

Remember that you are certainly not required to read and understand all of the additional material provided. Although, it may help you understand some aspects of the course better or enable you to explore a topic you find particularly interesting.

Lectures Slides Add. material Errata
1 Introduction PDF Extra
2 The Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) PDF Papers
3 Fundamentals of computer design PDF Extra
4 Advanced pipelining - Implementation issues and limits PDF Extra
5 Advanced pipelining - Branches PDF Extra Slides 4, 5, 28
6 Superscalar techniques I PDF Extra material for 6&7
7 Superscalar techniques II PDF (see above)
8 Software approaches to exploiting ILP PDF (updated) Extra improved slides
9 Multithreaded processors PDF Extra
10 The memory hierarchy - Cache memories PDF Extra
11 The memory hierarchy - Cache optimisations PDF Extra
12 The memory hierarchy - Main memory PDF Extra
13 Vector processors PDF Extra
14 Chip multiprocessors PDF (updated) Extra
15 Special-purpose architectures PDF Extra

Lecture 16 - Guest Lecture given by Krisztián Flautner (VP of Research and Development at ARM)
Breakfast (coffee and croissants) will be available from 9.45am.
I will also announce the winner of the branch predictor competition at this lecture.

Lecture notes and additional material from previous years: 2006/07 (Dr. David Greaves) / 2004/05 (Dr. Ian Pratt)

Branch Predictor Competition

Rules and branch traces for development


Please let me know if you spot an error in the lecture notes (

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