CSCI 424/524: Computer Architecture, Fall 2018

General Information

Prerequisites and Course Description

Prerequisite(s): CSCI 304 and either CSCI 301 or CSCI 303

This course will introduce principles of computer design. The students will apply their knowledge of digital logic design to understand the high-level interactions between different computer system hardware components. Specifically, this course will cover various computer architecture aspects related to MIPS ISA, single-cycle data-path design, multiple-cycle design, pipelining, memory hierarchy, and multiprocessor architecture.

Textbook and Resources

Grade Distribution (424 students)

Grade Distribution (524 students)


Classroom and Collaboration Policies

Submissions, Grading, and Deadlines


Tentative Schedule (Will keep changing regularly)

Week Date Agenda Readings HW Quiz Notes
Week 1   Aug 29   Administrativia and Introductions       Quiz 1 is out   First Day of class. Turing Lecture:  
Week 2   Sep 3   Introduction, Abstractions, and Technology   Chapter 1       Download/Install MARS and run sample codes to prepare for upcoming homeworks.  
Sep 5   Introduction, Abstractions, and Technology     HW 1 Out     Sept 7 is the Add/drop deadline.  
Week 3   Sep 10   MIPS ISA   Appendix A        
Sep 12   --         Class suspended due to Hurricane Florence  
Week 4   Sep 17   MIPS ISA     HW 2 Out   Quiz 2 Out    
Sep 19   MIPS ISA   Chapter 2        
Week 5   Sep 24   MIPS ISA     HW 3 Out   Quiz 3 Out    
Sep 26   MIPS Datapath   Appendix B.1 -- B.3 and B.7--B.9        
Week 6   Oct 1   Single-cycle Design   Chapter 4.1 -- 4.3        
Oct 3   Intro to Pipelining   Chapter 4.4 -- 4.7   HW4 out   Quiz 4 out   Midterm Sample Exam Out  
Week 7   Oct 8   Mid-term Review          
Oct 10   --         Instructor on travel  
Week 8   Oct 15   --         Fall break  
Oct 17   Midterm         In-class Midterm Exam  
Week 9   Oct 22   Intro to Simple-scalar (1)         Instructor on Travel.  
Oct 24   Intro to Simple-scalar (2)         Instructor on Travel.  
Week 10   Oct 29   Intro to Branch Prediction          
Oct 31   Caches   Chapter 5.1 -- 5.4   HW5 out      
Week 11   Nov 5   Caches       Quiz 5 Out    
Nov 7   Caches     HW6 out      
Week 12   Nov 12   Virtual Memory and TLBs   Chapter 5.6 -- 5.8        
Nov 14   Virtual Memory and TLBs          
Week 13   Nov 19   DRAM     HW7 out   Quiz 6 Out    
Nov 21   No Class         Thanksgiving  
Week 14   Nov 26   Multi-processors   Chapter 6.1 -- 6.5        
Nov 28   Multi-processors   Appendix C-2     HW8 Out   Quiz 7 Out  
Week 15   Dec 3   GPUs          
Dec 5   Final Exam Review          
Finals   Dec 11   Comprehensive Final Exam, 9:00am to noon, classroom         To be held in the Regular Classroom. (Exam Schedule). Final exam will include all material covered during the semester.  

Academic Integrity and Accommodations



The lecture slides of this course are developed based on the original lecture slides from Mary. J. Irwin (Penn State), which were adapted from Computer Organization and Design, 5th Edition, Patterson & Hennessy (P&H), Morgan Kaufmann. The course staff also acknowledges the contributions of Mary. J. Irwin, Chita Das, Yuan Xie, N. Vijaykrishnan, and other instructors and TAs at Penn State, towards developing the course material over a period of time. Some of the collaboration rules are inspired by CSE 465 course at Penn State.