Computer Architecture

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Course Date: 20 September 2014 to 06 December 2014 (11 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

In this course, you will learn to design the computer architecture of complex modern microprocessors.

Estimated Workload: 5-8 hours/week

Course Instructors

David Wentzlaff

David Wentzlaff is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University. Prior to joining Princeton, David completed his PhD thesis at MIT and is a co-founder of Tilera Corporation. At Tilera, he was Lead Architect of the TILE64 and TILEPro64 processors and designed the scalable TILE processor architecture. Before Tilera, he was one of the architects of the Raw Processor at MIT and designed the Raw on-chip networks. David founded the MIT Factored Operating System (fos) project which focuses on designing scalable operating systems for thousand core multicores and cloud computers. David received a MS in EECS from MIT and a BS in EE from UIUC. He enjoys hiking and mountaineering when not designing multicore processors or operating systems. His current research includes designing next generation manycore processors for the data center and sustainable computing.

Course Description

This course forms a strong foundation in the understanding and design of modern computing systems. Building on a computer organization base, this course explores techniques that go into designing a modern microprocessor. Fundamental understanding of computer architecture is key not only for students interested in hardware and processor design, but is a foundation for students interested in compilers, operating systems, and high performance programming. This course will explore how the computer architect can utilize the increasing number of transistors available to improve the performance of a processor. Focus will be given to architectures that can exploit different forms of parallelism, whether they be implicit or explicit. This course covers architectural techniques such as multi-issue superscalar processors, out-of-order processors, Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) processors, advanced caching, and multiprocessor systems.


  • Does Princeton award credentials or reports regarding my work in this course?

    No certificates, statements of accomplishment, or other credentials will be awarded in connection with this course.


The course will be made up of lectures (about 80 minutes each), two exams, and in-lecture assessments

Suggested Reading

Highly Recommended: 

Computer Architecture, Fifth Edition: A Quantitative Approach (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Architecture and Design) (5th Edition), 2011. 

John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson 

The 5th edition is new and very different than previous editions. USE THE 5TH EDITION. Approximately $45 on Amazon
ISBN: 978-0123838728 

The 5th edition is also available from the publisher in both text and e-book formats for a discount of up to 40%. Chapters may be purchased individually from the e-book site.

Optional Additional Text: 
Modern Processor Design: Fundamentals of Superscalar Processors (Waveland Press) (1st Edition), 2005, reissued 2013. 
John P. Shen and Mikko H. Lipasti 
Approximately $75 on Amazon 
ISBN: 1478607831

Available in e-book via Google Play and Kno.

Course Workload

5-8 hours/week

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