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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Computer Architecture Summary - Topics you need to know

This is the curriculum/study plan for many computer architecture courses: 

Dalle generated photo of a computer chip
Dalle generated photo of a computer chip

Please read the Computer Organization and Designand read my other MIPS blog posts too!


  • Instruction set
  • Micro-architecture
  • Endianness (Big vs Little)

    • Where is the MSB?

Unsigned vs signed numbers

  • 2’s complement

  • Signed bit 

Instruction Types 

  • 6 bit opcode

  • I Type

    • Immediate value range 

    • Branch limitations 

    • Addi, etc. 

  • R Type

    • Shifting (logical vs arithmetic)

    • Add, LW etc. 

  • J Type 

    • Limitations of jump range  

    • J vs JAL

Procedures (mainly for the lab)

  • Using the stack

  • JR and JAL


  • IF

  • ID

  • EX

  • MEM

  • WB

Single Cycle

  • Datapath

  • ALU

  • Registers

  • Stages

Multi Cycle 

  • Datapath

    • Additional lines
  • Differences between single and multi cycle


  • Differences from single and multi cycle to pipeline

  • Possible Hazards

    • Hazard detection unit

    • Forwarding unit

    • How to fix them

Adding new commands/modifying MIPS hardware
  • Example: Add a JAL command to a single-cycle basic datapath

Boolean arithmetic 

  • Addition 

  • Subtraction

  • Multiplication

    • Booth's algorithm 

Floating point (single precision)

  • Convert a decimal number to FP and vis-versa

  • Addition 

  • Subtraction

  • Multiplication

Benchmarks and comparisons 

  • Amdahl's Law

  • MIPS

  • MFLOPS (we brushed upon this)

  • Clock Cycle

  • CPI

  • Other formulas


  • Tri-state and Data bus 

  • Memory Hierarchy
  • DRAM vs SRAM 

    • 1D vs 2D

  • Locality of space vs time 

  • Hit rate/Miss rate

  • Models

    • Fully associative
    • N-way set associative 
    • Direct mapping
  • Policies/Miscellaneous 
    • Write back
    • Write through
    • Write allocate
    • No write allocate
    • LRU

Thank you for reading, please share the article and follow me on twitter for more resources and guides!

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