TITLE: An Online Tool For Teaching Design Trade-Offs In Computer Architecture

AUTHORS: Azam Beg and W. Ibrahim

PUBLICATION/VENUE: International Conference on Engineering Education (ICEE 2007), Sep 2007, pp. 523-527.

ABSTRACT:

In order to make a connection between the theoretical and practical aspects of computer architecture/organization courses at undergraduate and graduate levels, many software tools have been used in the past. If a large design-space needs to be explored using detailed simulations of a few industry-standard benchmark programs, the computational and time resources can become an impediment, thus placing a practical limit on the number of experiments, a student can complete in one semester. In this paper, we propose a software tool for predicting processor system performance. The tool can be used for teaching how the hardware configurations (processor microarchitecture, memory hierarchy, etc.) and/or software (benchmark program) characteristics affect the system throughput (as represented by instructions completed per cycle). Use of the proposed tool in computer architecture classes has demonstrated its effectiveness in improving the students' understanding of the related topics.

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