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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

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

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

Resources & Reading list

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

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

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



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 50%
Final Assessment  50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

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

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