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Integrating the teaching of computer organization and architecture with digital hardware design early in undergraduate courses

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2 Author(s)
Calazans, N.L.V. ; Fac. de Inf., Univ. Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil ; Moraes, F.G.

This paper describes a new way to teach computer organization and architecture concepts with extensive hands-on hardware design experience very early in computer science curricula. While describing the approach, it addresses relevant questions about teaching computer organization, computer architecture and hardware design to students in computer science and related fields. The justification to concomitantly teach two often separately addressed subjects is twofold. First, to provide a better insight into the practical aspects of computer organization and architecture. Second, to allow addressing only highly abstract design levels yet achieving reasonably performing implementations, to make the integrated teaching approach feasible. The approach exposes students to many of the essential issues incurred in the analysis, simulation, design and effective implementation of processors. Although the former separation of such connected disciplines has certainly brought academic benefits in the past, some modern technologies allow capitalizing on their integration. The practical implementation of the teaching approach comprises lecture as well as laboratory courses, starting in the third semester of an undergraduate computer science curriculum. In four editions of the first two courses, most students have obtained successful processor implementations. In some cases, considerably complex applications, such as bubble sort and quick sort procedures were programmed in assembly and or machine code and run at the hardware description language simulation level in the designed processors

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Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 2 )