Catalogue of Modules, University of Nottingham

G51CSA Computer Systems Architecture
(Last Updated:03 May 2017)

Year  06/07

Total Credits: 10

Level: Level 1

Target Students:    Available to JYA/Erasmus students.

Taught Semesters:

Autumn Assessed by end of Autumn Semester 

Prerequisites: None.


G51PRG Programming 

Summary of Content:  The course begins by introducing the basic von Neumann architecture for stored-program digital computers and binary representations of basic data types.It then surveys the key subsystems found in a typical PC: CPU, semiconductor memory, secondary storage, I/O and system buses. The course then describes how the operating system supplements the basic hardware facilities to make a computer easier to use for normal programming tasks. It then considers the lowest levels of normal programming: machine code and assembly language. These are illustrated using a very simple (fictional) micro-processor/assembly language. Finally the course considers some of the internal details of a typical CPU as well as alternative CPU architectures. Topics include: pipelining, cacheing, RISC, CISC and parallel machine architectures. Members of the Intel 80x86 family of micro-processors are introduced as additional real-world examples. Module Web Links:
  • Reading List
  • Method and Frequency of Class:

    ActivityNumber Of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
    Lecture 12 weeks2 per week1 hour

    Activities may take place every teaching week of the Semester or only in specified weeks. It is usually specified above if an activity only takes place in some weeks of a Semester

    Further Activity Details:
    Two one-hour lectures per week. In addition students will participate in a single one-hour "build a computer" laboratory.

    Method of Assessment: 

    Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
    Exam 1 50 1 hr written examination 
    Coursework 1 50 Programming exercise 

    Professor T Altenkirch

    Education Aims:  To give a broad understanding of the internal operation and structure of a modern PC or workstation. To show how a computer is built up from a relatively simple digital circuit by successive elaboration to form a number of logical layers of functionality; to show that hardware are software are often equivalent in this context. To allow the student to appreciate the typical facilities and mechanisms which underly the operation of various high-level programming operations and facilities. To allow the student to appreciate the key conceptual steps which underly the evolution or realisation of a conventional stored-program digital computer

    Learning Outcomes:  Knowledge and Understanding To be able to write simple assembly language programs. To understand the major components (especially hardware) which make up a computer system. Intellectual Skills Professional Skills To be able to program in assembly language.

    Offering School:  Computer Science

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