EECS 3026: Introduction to Computer Architecture & Organization


Computer Organization is an exciting topic that is fun to learn about. In this class, we bring together several topics that you have studied independently to develop a more comprehensive understand of computer operation and implementation. While it can be challenging to learn this material, it is not really all that conceptually difficult. The key difficulty is finding the time to learn all the details and understand clearly how things come together. Please plan accordingly.

Most of the fundamental information that you require for this class you already know; how it all comes together is what will challenge you. We will bring these various bits of information together into a collective understanding of an operational computing system. In this class, the devil is in the details.

The text book for this quarter is the undergraduate text by Patterson and Hennessy, titled Computer Organization and Design. This is a very well regarded text that provides comprehensive coverage for the student. Unfortunately its comprehensive nature also makes it quite long. Please plan your reading schedule accordingly.

As always, if you have any questions/problems, please feel free to drop by my office (836 Rhodes Hall) to discuss your issues (tues/thurs please).

Semester Planning

Class Readings

Must Read Should Read Comments
Chapter 1: 1.1-1.6 1.7-1.13  
Chapter 2: 2.1-2.8, 2.11, 2.16-2.19 2.9-2.15, 2.20-2.23  
Chapter 3:     Entire chapter is reference material
Chapter 4: 4.1-4.10 4.12-4.17  
Chapter 5: 5.1-5.11, 5.15 5.12-5.14, 5.16-5.19  
Virtualization:     Class lecture notes
Chapter 6: 6.1-6.9 6.10-6.16  

Class Notes

Project Description

There are four class projects. Projects 1 and 2 are reviews of the material from digital systems will give you experiences with some gate level CAD tools and have you develop components that you can use to complete Projects 3 and 4. Projects 3 and 4 will require control signal and circuit implementations for a processor specification that I will release to the class in the 4th week of the semester. The requirements for the four projects and the processor specification are contained in the links below

  1. Project 1 (10 points), Gate Level CAD Tools Experiences
  2. Project 2 (10 points), Digital Systems Review: Sequential Circuits
  3. Project 3 (50 points), (not yet available) Non-Pipelined Control Unit
  4. Project 4 (50 points), (not yet available) Pipelined Control Unit


There are three exams in this class. Two in class exams and one final exam. All exams are comprehensive and closed book/closed note exams. The schedule for the exams is given the the schedule above.

Student Assessment and Grading

Student assessment will be performed in two parts. The first assessment determines if you pass or fail the class. For those students that receive a passing recommendation on the first assessment, the second assessment determines the actual grade that you will receive. Any pass/fail or audit student must earn the equivalent of a "C" grade in order to receive credit.

The assessments are to be evaluated as follows:

First Assessment: To receive a passing recommendation, the students must (a) earn an average score on the exams > 40%, (b) a score of >= 50% on Projects 1 and 2, and (c) a score of >= 35% on Projects 3 and 4.

Second Assessment: After receiving a passing assessment, each students will be assigned a letter grade based on a weighted average (WA) score for all three exams and the four projects. The weights are are set as follows:

Final grades will be assigned according to the WA as follows:
  1. D: WA > 40%
  2. C: WA > 50%
  3. B: WA > 60%
  4. A: WA > 70%
I reserve the right to lower these percentage cutoffs.

Examples from previous class projects/exams:

  • Grader