28012 - Electronic Calculators T

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

Knowledge of the basic elements of computer architectures. These include the  CPU as well as the memory and I/O subsystems. The student will acquire the ability to analyse and design very simple microprocessor-based sytems.

Course contents

  1. Introduction - Von Neumann's model. PC and Bus Cycles. Hardware Architecture. Performance. History of Computers.
  2. Instruction Set Architecture -  General features concerning ISAs: instruction encoding, addressing modes, instruction classes, procedure calls. Taxonomy of ISAs. codifica delle istruzioni, modalità di indirizzamento, classi di istruzioni, gestione delle procedure. Register-Register  (RISC) e Memory–Register  (CISC) architectures. . 
  3. Complements of Logic Design -  ALU. 3-state drivers and distributed multiplexing. Register File. Driver, Tranceiver, Latch,  Edge Triggered Register.
  4. ISA DLX – Execution environment. Instruction Set. Stack implementation to handle calls. Code examples. Instruction formats.
  5. Internal structure of a sequential CPU -   Datapath and Controller.  DLX Datapath. State machine of a DLX controller. Handling interrupts.  Number of clocks to execute instructions.
  6. Internal structure of a pipelined CPU – General pipeline principles and performance metrics.  A DLX pipelined Datapath. Dependencies and Hazards. Stalls and Forwarding. Control Hazards. Brach Prediction.
  7. IA (Intel Architecture)  - Execution environment. Segmentation: logical vs. physical addresses. Instruction Set.  Code examples and comparison to DLX code.
  8. Interfacing memory parts to the system bus  – ROM and RAM chips. Mapping memory chips into the address space and address decoding in case of a 8-bit data bus. Extension to a multi-byte data bus (16 bit,32 bit,....). Memory access time and number of required wait state.  Design of READY circuitry.
  9. Handling I/O ports – Basic I/O. General model for an I/O port. Accessing internal registers within I/O ports. Interfacing I/O ports to the system bus in case of both 8-bit and multi-byte data buses. Handling I/O by  polling and by interrupt. Code examples.
  10. The interrupt system -   Interrupt classes (HW interrupts, SW interrupts and exceptions).  Handling HW interrupts by a PIC (Programmable Interrupt Controller). Vectored Interrupts.


Suggested Readings:

1. Hennessy, Patterson: "Computer architecture: a quantitative approach" - Morgan Kaufmann pub. Inc., second edition

2. Giacomo Bucci: “Architetture dei calcolatori elettronici” McGraw-Hill.

Teaching methods

Theory and Exercises during Class Hours.

Assessment methods

Written examination consisting in design exercices dealing with the internal structure of a CPU as well as with interfacing memory  parts and I/O ports to the system bus.

Teaching tools

PC and Projector.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Luigi Di Stefano