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The topics of computer architecture are always taught using an Assembly dialect as an example. The most commonly used textbooks in this field use the MIPS64 Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) to help students in learning the fundamentals of computer architecture because of its orthogonality and its suitability for real-world applications. This paper shows how to use the EduMIPS64 visual CPU Simulator as a supporting tool for teaching the standard topics covered by an undergraduate course in computer architecture. The proposed approach is first compared to other similar works in the field, then after a short description of the simulator, the paper focuses on how it can be used for teaching specific topics in an undergraduate computer architecture course. This discussion is then followed by a quantitative assessment of the suitability of the simulator by means of a survey compiled by students themselves; the results show that EduMIPS64 is suitable for the purpose for which it was built-that is, supporting the learning process of computer architecture topics.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2012