CS 136

Advanced Architecture
Spring 2009


Geoff Kuenning, Olin 1240, x71610, geoff@cs.hmc.edu
Administrative Aide:
Joyce Greene, Olin 1258, x18225

Getting Help

If you need help with assignments, send mail to cs136help at cs.hmc.edu. This alias is preferable to mailing the professor directly, since it causes the mail to be sorted into a higher-priority box. You can also AIM me at my usual address ("Prof" plus my last name).

Class Meetings

Lecture Times:
Monday/Wednesday 1:15-2:30 (Galileo Edwards).

Course Description

This course examines advanced topics in commputer architecture, including parallelism, pipelining, the memory heirarchy, storage systems, and instruction sets.


The text for the course is Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, Fourth Edition, by John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson, Morgan Kaufman, 2006, ISBN 0-12-370490-1. If you buy the book from amazon.com via the preceding link, it will generate a commission for the Computer Science Department, which will be placed in the CS student activities fund. The money will directly benefit students, NOT the faculty or the department. Using the link to order any other book will also generate the commission.

There are obviously other online sources of books, so do what is best for you.

What Is This Course About?

Computer architecture is the study of how to design computer hardware as it is seen by the programmer, and how to make that hardware perform well. Architecture encompasses such topics as the number and type of registers, what instructions are available, how the caches behave, and how instructions are schedules.

This course not a class in chip design, and we will not spend time creating a complete processor. Instead, we will cover high-level questions such as the best organization for a virtual memory or whether condition codes are a sensible idea. In that sense, the course is more like a graduate class than an undergraduate one.

Requirements and Grades

There will be a few homeworks at the beginning of the semester, and a midterm examination. The primary effort in the latter part of the term will involve a final project in the area of computer architecture. Details of the project will be announced in class.

The course will be graded as follows:

    5% In-class participation
15% Homework assignments
35% Midterm examination
45% Final project

Web Page

Obviously, you should check the class Web page regularly. Your primary source of timely information is the class calendar. Changes to the calendar page will NOT be announced via e-mail; it is your responsibility to keep an eye on it.

Major changes to other Web pages will be announced to the class mailing list.

© 2009, Geoff Kuenning

This page is maintained by Geoff Kuenning.