CS470: Computer Architecture


Spring 2016 Course Syllabus (To be updated for Spring 2017)

Computers today  range from high performance machines to smartphones and embedded processors in appliances. They crunch numbers, drive high definition displays as well as run everyday applications. The course covers: How to build a functional unit using lower level components in an optimal way (cost/power/performance). Combinational and sequential blocks using gates and storage elements. Processor specification using ISA Implementing high-level language constructs using machine/assembly language. Exploiting potential parallelism to achieve high performance. Memory hierarchy to achieve a large address space with a low cost with fast access. How is technology advancing? What to expect in near future?





Yashwant Malaiya Malaiya @ cs.colostate.edu

356 CSB Hours: T, Th 2-3 PM PM

Mustafa Al-Lail Hours : T, 10AM-11AM, CSB 120, and W, 11AM-12PM CSB 235 or by email at mustafa @ cs.colostate.edu



o   Prerequisites: a grade of 'C' or better in CS 370 (System Architecture and Software).

o   On-Campus and Distance section: Both will use the same Canvas course, with same quizzes and assignments. The tests will be arranged separately, they will be in the class for the on-campus section and take home for the distance students. The two sections will be graded separately but using the same overall standards. The on-campus students are required to attend the lectures.

o   Text: David A. Patterson & John L. Hennessy, Computer Organization & Design: The Hardware/Software Interface, 5th ed., Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc. Some material will be taken from recent publications and other sources.

o   Homework/Labs: There will be about some homework and programming assignments. Some assignments will include use of simulation at the logic level and some will use a machine/assembly level simulator.

o   Tests: There will be one midterm and a comprehensive Final Exam.

o   Quizzes: In addition there will be about quizzes, mostly on-line on Canvas, but some may in the class, some of which may be unannounced.

o   Term project in Computer Architecture: Proposal (1-page): 3/3/16, progress report: 3/31/16, final report 5/4/16. A short presentation powerpoint presentation will be required (4/29/16-5/2/16). The distance students will not have to make presentations in the class, but will just use the discussion board.


Grading (tentative)



March 11


Final exam

May 6


Homework & programs

as assigned

about 20%


In-class or on-line


Term Project

Due on 5/4/16







o   Policies:

o   Assignments are due on the due date at the start of class, or by the time specified if electronic submission by CANVAS is required.

o   You may turn assignments in up to 24 hours late for a 20% penalty. No credit will be given after that.

o   If you will not be able to take an exam or make an assignment deadline due to an exceptional reason that can be documented, you must request the instructor in advance for possible alternative arrangements.

o   Students must read the CS Department Student Information Sheet.



Topic Outline


o   Review of logic design basics

o   Gates, boolean algebra and truth tables

o   Combinational logic and functional blocks (MUX, decoders, Adders, PLAs)

o   Flip-flops, registers and memories

o   Timing analysis

o   Finite state machines

o   Use of software packages for simulation

o   Computer Performance and Trends

o   Measuring performance; Metrics

o   Benchmarks

o   Trends in density, performance and cost

o   Assembly language programming

o   Operations; Operands

o   Instruction formats and Addressing Modes

o   Decision-making

o   Procedure/function calls; Stack

o   Arrays; Pointers

o   RISC and CISC processors

o   Computer Arithmetic

o   Numbers and codes

o   Binary arithmetic and hardware implementation

o   Floating-point numbers

o   Implementation of Multiplication and division hardware

o   Central Processing Unit

o   Structure; Datapaths

o   Control unit

o   Instruction execution

o   FSM and microprogrammed control*

o   Parallelism for enhanced performance

o   Pipelined Datapaths

o   Data Hazards; Forwarding; Stalls

o   Branch Hazards

o   Exceptions*

o   Multiple Issue

o   Memory Hierarchy

o   Cache Implementations

o   Cache Performance

o   Memory Hierarchy

o   Storage and IO

o   Buses and hubs

o   RAID

o   Multiple processor systems

o   SIMD Multimedia Extensions*

o   Multicore*