This course provides a detailed examination of the internal structure and operation of modern computer systems. Each of the major system components is investigated, including the following topics: the design and operation of the ALU, FPU, and CPU; microprogrammed vs. hardwired control, pipelining, and RISC vs. CISC machines; the memory system including caches and virtual memory; parallel and vector processing, multiprocessor systems and interconnection networks; superscalar and super-pipelined designs; and bus structures and the details of low-level I/O operation using interrupt mechanisms, device controllers, and DMA. The impact of each of these topics on system performance is also discussed. The instruction set architectures and hardware system architectures of different machines are examined and compared. The classical Von Neumann architecture is also compared and contrasted with alternative approaches such as data flow machines and neural networks.
The required foundation courses may be taken in any order but must be taken before other courses in the degree.