ECE 152 

Computer Architecture

Spring 2011
Professor Daniel J. Sorin


The objective of this course is to learn how computers work, focusing on how the computer hardware executes the software. 
The course focuses on instruction sets, computer arithmetic, processor design, memory system design, and input/output.  A major component
of the course will be a group project in which each team of students will design and build a computer in real hardware and then run programs on it.
Prerequisites: ECE 52 and the ability to program in a high-level language (C, C++, or Java)
Class Location and Hours


Class meets Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 10:20am - 11:10am.

Location: Teer 115

 Instructor, Teaching Assistant, and News Group


This is a large class, which means that students should contact other sources of information before, if necessary, contacting the professor.


* The first option for finding help is this website.

* The second option for finding help is the outstanding group of teaching assistants for this course.  Either email them (via the course's Google group) or go to their office hours. Questions on the Google group may get answered by a TA, a fellow classmate, or the professor.

Graduate Teaching Assistant: Meng Zhang (mz28@)

Undergraduate Teaching Assistants:

John Ingalls (john.ingalls@)

Jacob Harer (jacob.harer@)

Ralph Nathan (ralph.nathan@)

Jeremy Walch (jeremy.walch@)


* If you need to contact the professor, please email him or come to his office hours:

Professor Daniel J. Sorin

Office: 209C Hudson Hall

Office Hours: Monday 1-2pm, Tuesday 2-3pm

Email: sorin AT ee DOT duke DOT edu (email subject must begin with ECE152)

Required Textbook
David A. Patterson and John L. Hennessy. Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface, 4th edition, Morgan-Kaufmann.
 Assignments and Grading
This course will require readings from the textbook, pencil and paper problems, programming assignments, and one multi-part project.

Students are responsible for:

Deadlines will be enforced except under extreme circumstances. Anything turned in late will incur a 10% penalty per day late (e.g., from due date until 24 hours late is 10% off). I would prefer that you turn in something not quite done on the due date rather than waiting until after the deadline to try to finish it. 

Start assignments and projects EARLY so that you don't get stuck at the end!

Academic Misconduct: I will not tolerate academically dishonest work.  This includes cheating on the homework, project, and exams.  
This course has historically had a high incidence of academic misconduct cases which have led to academic suspension and expulsion. 
Refer to the Duke Undergraduate Honor Code or to the instructor if you have any questions about misconduct.
 Topics, Lecture Notes, and Reading Assignments

I will post lecture notes (in PDF format) shortly before I cover them in class.  Please bring them to class. Click on topic title for link to notes.

Do not think that you can read the notes instead of attending class.  You will miss a LOT of course material if you miss class.

Topic Reading Assignments
Course Introduction and Overview
   slides, part 1
   slides, part 2

Chapter 1
Instruction Sets and Assembly Programming
   slides, part 1
   slides, part 2 (of 2)
Chapter 2
Computer Arithmetic and ALU Design
   slides, part 1
   slides, part 2
   slides, part 3 (of 3)
Chapter 3
Processor Design: Datapath and Control
   slides, part 1
   slides, part 2 (of 2)
Chapter 4: 4.1-4.4
Pipelined Processors
   slides, part 1
   slides, part 2
   slides, part 3 (of 3)
Chapter 4: 4.5-end
Memory and Caches
   slides, part 1
   slides, part 2
Chapter 5
   slides, part 1 (of 1)
Chapter 6
Multicore Processors
   slides, part 1
   slides, part 2
Chapter 7
Performance and Advanced Topics
Homework Assignments

Homework #1 (Intro and Chapter 1), due Friday, January 28 (in class)

Homework #2 (Instruction Sets), due Friday, February 11 (in class)

Homework #3 (Computer Arithmetic), due Wednesday, February 23 (in class)

Homework #4 (Unpipelined Processor), due Friday, March 18 (in class)

Homework #5 (Pipelined Processor), due Wednesday, March 30 (in class)

Homework #6 (Caches and Memory), due Monday, April 11 (in class)


The project for this class will be performed in groups of 2, and it has multiple parts. The end products will be:

The Duke 152/S11 architecture's specification

I have subdivided this project into smaller parts that will be due throughout the semester.

Part 1: Register File (75 points), due Monday, January 24

Part 2: Memory (25 points), due Wednesday, February 2

Part 3: High performance adder and shifter (100 points), due Wednesday, February 16

Part 4: ALU (75 points), due Friday, March 4

Part 5: Unpipelined CPU (200 points), due Wednesday, March 23

Part 6: Pipelined CPU (200 points), due Wednesday, April 13 (IGNORE THE APRIL 11 DEADLINE IN THE PDF)

Part 7: Whole Enchilada (200 points), due Wednesday, April 27



This is a VERY tentative schedule which may change depending on time constraints and which days the instructor will be out of town.





Jan 10



Intro (10:05-11:20)

Jan 17


Intro (10:05-11:20) Instruction Sets (Meng Zhang)
Jan 24 Instruction Sets (Prof. Ben Lee) NO CLASS NO CLASS
Jan 31 Instruction Sets (10:05-11:20) Computer Arithmetic (10:05-11:20)

Computer Arithmetic

Feb 7 Computer Arithmetic Computer Arithmetic

Computer Arithmetic

Feb 14 Processor Design

Processor Design


Feb 21 Pipelining Pipelining review for Midterm
Feb 28


Pipelining Pipelining
Mar 7


Mar 14 Pipelining Memory Systems Memory Systems
Mar 21 Memory Systems Memory Systems Memory Systems
Mar 28 Memory Systems


Apr 4 I/O Multicore Multicore
Apr 11 Multicore Multicore Multicore/Sun Niagara
Apr 18 Sun Niagara Advanced Topics Advanced Topics
Apr 25

review for final exam

project demos

Reading Period

May 2

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