Computer Architecture and Systems Programming Lab
Syllabus and Detailed Description
Topics Covered in the Course (Lectures and Practical Sessions)
Review of basic architecture
Machine and assembly languages (generic)
The process of assembly and linking
Special assembly language programming issues
Parameter passing: assembly language and "external"
Return addresses and co-routines
Traps and interrupts: mechanism and handling
- Worms and viruses: malicious code and defending against it.
- Architecture design considerations - CISC vs. RISC
Special miscellaneous topics
Operating system interface: traps and interrupts *
Access to IO devices: display, keyboard, real-time clocks, DMA *
Communications (serial and parallel), simple error detection and correction
codes (parity, Hamming), handshakes.
- New: Intel GPU architecture.
Topics Covered in the Labs (including special lectures)
The Lab will be based on a LINUX platform, and use the C programming language.
The emphasis is on low-level programming. Goals of this lab are to introduce
issues in low level programming, as well as techniques on how
to learn needed information on demand.
The following topics will be covered via hands-on experience during
- Low level programming in C. This includes all sorts of "tricks"
that emphasise the power of low-level computing, as an aid to
understanding computing systems in depth:
- Pointers to functions and their applications.
- Self modifying code and applications.
- Binary files of various types: structure and processing.
- Maintaining data structures in files (e.g. b-tree, Linux directories).
- Object and executable files (demonstrated through ELF files).
- Linking and Loading, Dynamic Loading.
- Using operating systems services (system calls):
- Process control: creating and terminating processes,
process control, signals. Will be introduced by programming
a simple shell.
- System-level Input/Output: read, write files, file
metadata, sharing files.
- Issues in program developement:
- Debugging programs, and the effect of compound bugs (e.g. various
types of memory leaks, compiler bugs).
- Patching and hacking.
Prerequisites: Digital Systems (361-13591), Introduction to Computers (in parallel),
Credits: 4 (for 2.5 lecture hours, 1 exercise session, 3 lab hours).
- Grading (approximate):
- Architecture and SP lab: 45% final exam,
15% homework assignments, 5% each lab midterm,
30% lab grades (lab attendance mandatory!).
- Students in SPlab only: 15% first midterm, 15% second midterm
(at same time as architecture exam), 70% lab grades (lab attendance mandatory!).
No cheating! You are required to get a non-zero grade on all
assignments and labs in order to pass the course. An unsubmitted assignment or lab gets
1/100. An assignment too similar to someone else's assignment (i.e.
cheating) gets you 0/100 and no credit in the course.
Sourcebooks and Written Material
IBM PC Assembly Language Programming, Peter Abel, Prentice Hall (second
NASM online manual.
- D. A. Patterson and J. L. Hennessey, Computer Organization & Design:
The Hardware Software Interface, Morgan Kauffman, second edition 1998.
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