Computer Architecture (and Low-Level Programming)

Syllabus and Detailed Description

Topics Covered in the Course

  1. Review of basic architecture
  2. Machine and assembly languages (generic)
  3. The process of assembly and linking
  4. Special assembly language programming issues
    1. Parameter passing: assembly language and "external"
    2. Return addresses and co-routines
    3. Traps and interrupts: mechanism and handling
    4. Worms and viruses: malicious code and defending against it.
  5. Architecture design considerations - CISC vs. RISC
  6. (Introduction to) issues in modern architectures
    1. Associative memory and caches
    2. Address mapping (paging, segmentation, virtual memory)
    3. Pipelining
  7. Special miscellaneous topics
    1. Operating system interface: traps and interrupts *
    2. Access to IO devices: display, keyboard, real-time clocks, DMA *
    3. Communications (serial and parallel), simple error detection and correction codes (parity, Hamming), handshakes.

Course Requirements

  1. Prerequisites: Digital Systems (361-13591), Introduction to Computers, Systems Programming, System Programming Lab.
  2. Credits: 2.5 (for 2 lecture hours, 1 exercise/lab sessions). Note that there will be about 3 labs of 2 hours during the semester, and 7-8 exercise sessions of 1 hour during the semester. Exact dates will be published on this web site.
  3. Grading (approximate): 60% final exam, 30% homework assignments, 10% lab grades (lab attendance mandatory!).

    No cheating! You are required to get a non-zero grade on all assignments in order to pass the course. An unsubmitted assignment 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

  1. IBM PC Assembly Language Programming, Peter Abel, Prentice Hall (second edition 1991)
  2. NASM online manual.
  3. D. A. Patterson and J. L. Hennessey, Computer Organization & Design: The Hardware Software Interface, Morgan Kauffman, second edition 1998.
  4. Advanced Microprocessors, Daniel Tabak, McGraw-Hill Inc., 1991.

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