Course Syllabus

Catalog Description: Computer architecture using processors, memories, and I/O devices as building blocks. Issues involved in the design of instruction set architecture, processor, pipelining and memory organization. Design philosophies and trade-offs involved in Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) architectures.

Prerequisites: ECE 375

Instructor: Justin Goins
When corresponding via email, please always include your specific course number in the subject line (e.g. CS472ECE472CS572, or ECE572).

A calendar with office hour information is available here.

Course content

  • Performance measurements
  • Instruction set design
  • Computer arithmetic
  • Processor: data path and control design, pipeline design, memory system, I / O design, parallel systems

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Use various metrics to calculate the performance of a computer system
  2. Identify the addressing mode of instructions
  3. Determine which hardware blocks and control lines are used for specific instructions
  4. Analyze clock periods, performance, and instruction throughput of single-cycle, multi-cycle, and pipelined implementations of a simple instruction set
  5. Detect pipeline hazards and identify possible solutions to those hazards
  6. Show how cache design parameters affect cache hit rate
  7. Map a virtual address into a physical address
  8. Demonstrate how parallel programming and multi-core architectures can benefit/degrade system performance, depending on software applications.
  9. CS/ECE572: Explore processor performance-cost trade-off quantitatively in a detailed simulator

General Information

  • Students enrolled in ECE572 or CS572 should expect additional assignments or alternative exams to test for proficiency.
  • I attempt to answer all emails within 48 hours (excluding weekends). I often respond much faster.
  • Remember to use your TAs because they are the ones who execute, read, and grade the assignments.
  • Normally I ask that cell phones and other mobile devices should be silenced and away during lecture. Due to the "remote delivery" format of this class, I realize that students don't always have a silent area in which to work. However, please try to be courteous to the instructor and other students in the Zoom classroom. If you are not intending to speak, keep your microphone muted to reduce background noise.

Attendance Policy

  • Lecture: Required. Do not expect a private tutorial if you skip lectures. A student who is absent from class due to illness or family emergency should notify instructors as soon as possible (by e-mail). Notifying instructors and discussing missed work is the responsibility of the student.
  • Exams: Required. If you are unable to attend an exam you should notify the instructor at least one week in advance via email. If the absence is due to a valid excuse (as determined by the instructor) then a make-up exam will be arranged. Missing an exam without prior arrangements will result in a grade of zero on that exam. If there are legitimate extenuating circumstances, please contact the instructor to explain your situation. All decisions made by the instructor are final.

In serious situations or when the student is unable to contact instructors, the student or family members may contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 541-737-8748 for assistance. The Office of Dean of Students will provide notification of the absence to the student's instructors and the college head advisor. Students are reminded that providing false or misleading information to obtain an excused absence is a violation of student conduct regulations and may result in university student conduct action. Please see the student conduct page for more information.

Grading Information

Grades will be posted on the grade page of Canvas as they become available.

  • Unless specifically stated otherwise, late work will receive a grade of zero. There are two exceptions to this policy:
    • You have one "free" late submission (up to 48 hours late) that can be used on a homework assignment of your choice. Note that you can't use this free token on exams or projects.
    • If there are extenuating circumstances (medical emergencies, millitary deployment, etc) please contact the instructor as soon as possible.
  • Homework that does not compile (for any reason) will not receive credit.
  • Unless otherwise specified, compilation will be tested on These machines are the final say on whether your code compiles.
  • All homework must be submitted in order to pass the course. Students missing assignments at the end of the term will automatically receive an F grade.
  • You must pass the final project to pass this class. If you fail the final project you should expect to receive an F as your final course grade.
  • If you have a complaint regarding the grade you received on an assignment or exam, talk to the individual who graded the work in question. If you are unable to come to an amicable resolution, you may confer with the instructor to explain the situation. The instructor will make a final decision as to the fairness of the grade.

Grading Scale

Letter Grade Percentage
A >= 92.5
A- >= 90 - 92.5
B+ >= 87.5 - 90
B >= 82.5 - 87.5
B- >= 80 - 82.5
C+ >= 77.5 - 80
C >= 72.5 - 77.5
C- >= 70 - 72.5
D+ >= 67.5 - 70
D >= 62.5 - 67.5
D- >= 60 - 62.5
F < 60

Course Weighting

Quizzes - 15%

Assignments - 40%

Midterm Exam - 20%

Final Project - 25%

Assigned Textbook

Title: Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface (6th edition)
Author(s): David Patterson & John Hennessy (2021)
Publisher: Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann
Paperback ISBN: 978-0128201091

Additional papers and online resources will be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty

Students are encouraged to share ideas and learn from one another. However, you are expected to turn in your OWN work for every assignment. Assignments are NOT group projects and you should expect all assignments to be checked for similarities with others in the class, prior class assignments, and work published online. You should never be copying someone else's work and changing a small amount of that work, such as variable names, comments, spacing, etc. During group assignments you and your partners may turn in one assignment per group with everyone's name attached. Working together is not allowed on exams. If you utilize online code examples then you need to cite the resource and author(s). You are expected to be familiar with the Oregon State University Code of Conduct. It is available online at:

Paying someone to complete your work is unacceptable and will result in immediate referral to the Office of Student Conduct! Cheating and plagiarism are not taken lightly!

You will receive a zero on your first abuse of these rules, and in the case of shared work, the student(s) sharing the work and the student(s) copying the work will all receive zeros. Allegations of misconduct are reviewed by a third party within the College of Engineering. If you are found guilty, the academic dishonesty charge will be documented and maintained in your academic record.

Disability Accommodations

Accommodations for students with disabilities are determined and approved by Disability Access Services (DAS). If you, as a student, believe you are eligible for accommodations but have not obtained approval please contact DAS immediately at 541-737-4098 or at DAS notifies students and faculty members of approved academic accommodations and coordinates implementation of those accommodations. While not required, students and faculty members are encouraged to discuss details of the implementation of individual accommodations.

Students with documented disabilities who may need accommodations, who have any emergency medical information the instructor should be aware of, or who need special arrangements in the event of evacuation, should make an appointment with the instructor as early as possible, and no later than the first week of the term. Class materials will be made available in an accessible format upon request.

Reach Out for Success

University students encounter setbacks from time to time. If you encounter difficulties and need assistance, it’s important to reach out. Consider discussing the situation with an instructor or academic advisor. Learn about resources that assist with wellness and academic success at If you are in immediate crisis, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting OREGON to 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Religious Accommodations

Oregon State University recognizes a diverse group of students and the university accommodates diverse religious holidays. Please see the OSU Equal Opportunity and Access website for additional information on the religious accommodation process.

The fine print...

Note that the course summary shown below is automatically generated by Canvas and will expand as the class progresses.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due