Course Summary

Use a hardware description language to describe and design digital computing systems. Topics include: processor design, pipelining, cache and storage systems, instruction, thread, and process level parallelism, speculation, and branch prediction.

Course Objectives

By the end of the semester:
  • Students will be able to express designs based on classical computer architectural concepts using appropriate engineering tools. (EAC a, b, c, k) (CAC a, c, i)
  • Students will be able to explain and apply fundamental architectural principles such as locality, optimizing common cases, and parallelism to modern architecture design. (EAC a, e) (CAC a)


The course closely follows parts of the Hennessy and Patterson Computer Architecture textbook. All of the material will be presented in class as lecture slides, activities, or papers. Some students may be successful from the provided materials alone. However, depending on your learning style, you may find it useful to read the text. One copy is on reserve at the library for occasional use. If you are a book learner or plan to pursue graduate studies in a related field, obtaining a copy of the text is highly recommended.

Recommended Textbooks

Attendance and Participation

An important part of the class is your active participation in lecture sections. If people do not show up to lecture, or do other work (or sleep) while in lecture, it degrades the quality of the class for everyone. Therefore, all students are expected to attend and actively participate in all lectures. If you have to miss a class please contact the instructor at least 24 hours prior to the start of that class. You will be responsible for making up any/all missed work.

In Class Activities

Most classes will include some sort of activity. Many times you will have time to complete the activity in class. If you do not complete an activity in class, it is your homework and is due by the beginning of next class. Activities will occasionally be collected and graded as part of your Quizzes, Activities, Participation grade. It is your responsibility to complete the activities and bring them to the next class.

Lab & Project Work

This course has 4 lab projects that complement the lecture material. The first two (project 0 and project 1) are individual assignments. The last two (project 2 and project 3) are group assignments. Groups will be determined at the completion of project 1. Projects are due at the beginning of the following lab session (see the Schedule).

The projects are worth:

Project 0 5%
Project 1 15%
Project 2 40%
Project 3 40%

Late Work

Late work is not accepted unless you receive permission from the instructor >24 hours before it is due.


Your instructor will make every effort to promptly return all graded work to you (usually by the next scheduled class). Projects and larger assignments will take longer (typically 1 week).  All grades will be published on Moodle. If you think you find a grading error, you may request a regrade. Regrade requests must be received no later than 72 hours after the assignment/exam is returned. It is possible for the new grade to be lower than the original grade. In all cases, the most recent grade is used (not the highest grade). If you would like to discuss your grade at any time, please contact me for a meeting.

The grade distribution of the components of the course is shown below. Students must pass all bold items marked with a * to pass the course (separately).

Quizzes, Activities, Participation* 20%
Exam 1 10%
Exam 2 10%
Final Exam* 10%
Lab & Projects* 50%

The standard grading scale (below) is used to assign letter grades.

Score Grade
93 A
90-92 A-
87-89 B+
83-86 B
80-82 B-
77-79 C+
73-76 C
70-72 C-
60-69 D
<60 F

Bucknell University Honor Code

As a student and citizen of the Bucknell University community:

  1. I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors.
  2. I will forthrightly oppose each and every instance of academic dishonesty.
  3. I will let my conscience guide my decision to communicate directly with any person or persons I believe to have been dishonest in academic work.
  4. I will let my conscience guide my decision on reporting breaches of academic integrity to the appropriate faculty or deans.

Expectations for Academic Engagement

Courses at Bucknell that receive one unit of academic credit have a minimum expectation of 12 hours per week of student academic engagement. Student academic engagement includes both the hours of direct faculty instruction (or its equivalent) and the hours spent on out-of-class student work.

Source: Bucknell University Academic Policies and Requirements

Access Statement

Any student who may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Heather Fowler, Director of the Office of Accessibility Resources at 570-577-1188 or who will help coordinate reasonable accommodations for those students with documented disabilities.

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