Computer architecture

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims at introducing basic concepts of hardware and firmware architectures of computing systems, starting from digital circuit fundamentals up to the description of behavior and structure of the main parts of a computing system and its programming in machine language.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will have to demonstrate understanding of role and behavior of basic elements related to structure and functioning of a computer. The student will have also to be able to translate simple algorithms into the machine language of the reference processor adopted in the course.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second four month period
Didactic methods will not change.
Course program and reference materials will not change.
As in the past, the exams in presence will consist of
* a 60-minutes written test, with 3 open-answer questions aiming at evaluating the understanding and the personal rethinking of all topics presented in lectures, as well as all logical connections among the various, technological, functional and implementation dependent aspects of the computer architecture;
* a 60-minutes practical test in a PC lab, requiring implementation and testing of a program written in LC2 Assembly language, to verify the understanding of the machine-level behavior of the computer.
Online exams - if needed - will be carried on using the platform, with the rules already published in the unimi Web portal. The written test will have the same structure of the version in presence, while the practical test will have a 30-minutes reduced time, because the access to software tools necessary to translate and test LC2 Assembly language programs are not accessible under the platform. Evaluation will then be made only on the basis of the program text submitted by the student.
Course syllabus
· Reference architecture. Von Neumann machine. Functional structure of the main parts of the machine.
· Machine language. The Assembly language. Exercises.
· Functional principles of digital computing systems. Digital coding of information. Switching logic, logic gates, bistables. Combinational and sequential circuits.
· Main parts of the microcomputer architecture. Memory circuits. Memory technologies (ROM, SRAM, DRAM).
· I/O (Input/Output) peripherals architecture. Types and characteristics of I/O devices. The bus: structure and interconnection schemes. Software handling of I/O.
· The CPU: Data Path design. Circuits performing Arithmetic operations. ALU model design.
· The CPU: Control Path design. Control Unit design. Wired and microprogrammed control units.
· Main architectural advances. Cache memories. Virtual memory. Pipelining.
Prerequisites for admission
Nessun prerequisito. Si richiede una conoscenza dei concetti base di programmazione e la capacità di leggere un testo in inglese.
Teaching methods
Videolectures available on the degree web platform.
Teaching Resources
Notes and slides by the teacher, available on the course website.
Suggested material:
· P.Patel, Y.Patt: Introduction to computing systems: from bits and gates to C and beyond, McGraw Hill.
· V.C.Hamacher, Z.G.Vranesic, S.G.Zaky: Computer Organization, McGraw Hill.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam is constituted by a written test (requiring solution of application exercises and answer to theoretical questions) evaluated in thirtieths, and by the coding (in computer lab) of a program written in LC2 Assembly language that - if correct - may lead to a maximum increment of 2 thertieths of the grade obtained in the written test.
INF/01 - INFORMATICS - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Professor: Scarabottolo Nello
Appointment by e-mail
DI - via Celoria 18, 20133 Milano