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Animated models for teaching aspects of computer systems organization

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1 Author(s)
Henderson, W.D. ; Dept. of Comput., Northumbria Univ., Newcastle, UK

A computer simulator of a simple processor has been developed to help teach aspects of computer systems organization to first-year BSc undergraduates. The software provides an animated environment which allows the learner to explore the execution of macro- and microcode and electronic activity in computers within the framework of a pedagogical microprocessor. As programs are executed, the flows of data, addresses, and instructions are animated on functional diagrams. The learner is able to write machine-code programs using an existing basic instruction set and observe these being `executed' as a series of animated operations. In addition, the learner may specify microprograms to augment the basic instruction set. The behavior of CPU functional units (ALU, control unit, registers, etc.) may be examined by selecting more detailed models of these subsystems. Students use the software individually and in small groups by working through a series of exercises from a manual. In addition to describing the software, this paper comments on its use on the undergraduate course and concludes by outlining plans for its future development

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Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 3 )