Course Syllabus

CS 152: Computer Systems Architecture
Winter 2011

Instructor: Prof. A. Veidenbaum
office hours: After each class or by appointment

TA: Shahin Golshan
Office hours: Wedn. 4pm.

Prerequisites: CS 151

"Computer Organization & Design, The Hardware/Software Interface", 4th Edition, D. Patterson and J. Hennessy

Course Description

This course introduces fundamental principles of computer architecture. The main goal is to understand how a general-purpose processor is designed and the influence of a software layer (instruction set and assembly language) and electronics on this design and its performance. The main concepts studied in the course are instruction set architecture, performance measures, advanced computer arithmetic, control unit design, memory hierarchy, pipelining, and parallel architectures. 

Some of these concepts have been introduced in other courses (CS 51 and CS 151) and will only be reviewed. This course puts a special emphasis on how the control unit is designed and implemented and the operation of a complete (although simple) processor. An instruction set architecture of MIPS processors is used throughout the course. The course also explains the main principles of a memory hierarchy design and the operation of caches and virtual memory. Finally, it is shown how performance can be greatly improved using pipelining and other forms of parallel execution.

Topics to be Covered (Tentative)

Course Requirements

The course is composed of three components: lectures, homework assignments and exams. The lectures are based on the material in the textbook. The figures in the lecture are identical to those in the textbook, no handouts of the lectures will be provided. The lecture slides will be posted on the class website. Exams will be based on lectures and reading assignments.


Homework assignments are based on lecture material and reading assignments and must be solved by each student individually . Assignments will be posted on the web. All homework assignments should be turned in via EEE.  

Late assignments will NOT be accepted. Exceptions for illness or other justifiable causes may be requested in writing prior to the due date.

Homework solutions will be presented in the Discussion Section.


These are guidelines intended to help students plan their work in this course. The instructor reserves the right to make changes in the evaluation criteria.

Your grade in CS 152 will depend on class participation and your performance on exams and homework assignments. The following approximate weights are going to be used:

Grading is on the curve.

In exams and homework, explain how you arrive at your answer. Use pen, not pencil, if you want to be able to claim grading errors later.

If you wish to have something re-graded: you MUST

  1. attach a cover sheet to the assignment, and hand it to the TAs or the instructor
  2. Explain why you believe a problem (or problems) was misgraded.

The re-grades will only be considered for a period of one week following the date the material was returned.

Last modified: Jan. 3, 2011