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Computation Structures 3: Computer Organization

Learn how to turn a processor into an entire computer system in this interactive computer science course from MIT.
Computation Structures 3: Computer Organization
This course is archived
Estimated 10 weeks
6 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

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Digital systems are at the heart of the information age in which we live, allowing us to store, communicate and manipulate information quickly and reliably. This computer science course is a bottom-up exploration of the abstractions, principles, and techniques used in the design of digital and computer systems. If you have a rudimentary knowledge of electricity and some exposure to programming, roll up your sleeves, join in and design a computer system!

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on digital systems, providing an introduction to the hardware/software interface and is based on a course offered by the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Topics include pipelined computers, virtual memories, implementation of a simple time-sharing operating system, interrupts and real-time, and techniques for parallel processing.

Using your browser for design entry and simulation, you’ll optimize your processor design from Part 2 for size and speed, and make additions to a simple time-sharing operating system.

Learner Testimonial

"Out of the many edX courses I have taken, the first two parts of 6.004x were clearly the best. I am looking forward to the third part.” -- Previous Student

At a glance

  • Language: English

What you'll learn

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  • How to use pipelining to increase a processor’s throughput
  • Virtualization as a way to share a single processor among many tasks
  • Basic organization of a simple time-shared operating system
  • Appropriate techniques for parallel processing
  • Pipelined Beta: pipelined execution of instructions, data and control hazards, resolving hazards using bypassing, stalling and speculation.
  • Virtual Memory: extending the memory hierarchy, paging using hierarchical page maps and look-aside buffers, contexts and context switching, integrating virtual memories with caches.
  • Operating Systems: processes, interrupts, time sharing, supervisor calls.
  • Devices and Interrupts: device handlers asynchronous I/O, stalling supervisor calls, scheduling, interrupt latencies, weak and strong priority systems.
  • Processes, Synchronization and Deadlock: inter-process communication, bounded buffer problem, semaphores for precedence and mutual exclusion, semaphore implementation, dealing with deadlock.
  • Interconnect: the truth about wires, point-to-point vs. shared interconnect, communication topologies.
  • Parallel Processing: instruction-, data- and thread-level parallelism, Amdahl’s Law, cache coherency.
  • Labs: optimizing your Beta design for size and speed, emulating instructions, extending a simple time-sharing operating system.

About the instructors

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