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The University of Southampton

ELEC3219 Advanced Computer Architecture

Module Overview

This module covers the development of modern computer architectures for servers, workstations, hand-held devices, signal processing and embedded systems from the introduction of the four-stage RISC pipeline to the present day.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module gives a broad introduction into the study of computer architecture as it applies to current electronic and computer systems. We will look at the history of specialist architectures and draw lessons for the present from the successes and failures of the past. We will investigate simulation techniques of use in developing and analysing modern architectures.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The evolution of modern computer architectures
  • The design decisions taken in modern architectures
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the likely performance of a proposed computer architecture
  • Outline the design of a computer system to meet a performance requirement
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use graduate-level literature to expand your understanding of future architectures
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate by simulation the performance of key architectural features


- Evolution of hardware capabilities: density, speed, power, communications - Virtual memory, virtualised processors - The programming interface: instruction sets and memory models, compiler support - Memory Hierarchies: cache architectures - Branch prediction - Cache coherence - Instruction parallelism: pipeline optimisations, superscalar and out-of-order execution - Data parallelism: dataflow, vector, SIMD - Thread parallelism: hyper-threading, latency hiding, multi-core - GPUs and other accelerators, Intel Phi - Special-purpose processors: DSPs - System on-chip - Architecture performance simulation

Learning and Teaching

Follow-up work18
Wider reading or practice43
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Completion of assessment task19
Total study time156

Resources & Reading list

John L Hennessy and David A Patterson (2011). Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach. 

John L Hennessy and David A Patterson (2013). Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface. 

Jim Jeffers, Intel Xeon Phi (2013). Coprocessor High Performance Programming. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Architecture simulation 15%
Architecture simulation 35%
Examination  (2 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: (ELEC1201 AND ELEC1202) OR (COMP1202 and COMP1203)

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