ECE 2500 Computer Organization and Architecture | ECE | Virginia Tech

Undergraduate PROGRAMS

Course Information


Computer organization and architecture: instruction formats and constrcution; addressing modes; memory hierarchy (cache, main memory and secondary memory) operation and performance; simple pipelines; basic performance analysis; simple OS functions, particularly as they relate to hardware; virtual memory; computer I/O concepts, including interrupt and DMA mechanisms; intercomputer communication concepts

Why take this course?

Computer systems play an integral role in all facets of the engineering profession. Systems users are always in need of faster, more powerful, yet cheaper computer systems. This course provides an understanding of the processor-level components of computer systems, their design and operation, and their impact on the overall performance of the systems. Further, the course lays out the basic functions of an operating system as they relate to computer hardware.

Required for all CPE majors


C- or better in 2504

This course assumes that students can design basic combinational and sequential logic circuits, analyze and use binary numbers and arithmetic, develop simple assembly language programs, and analyze basic computer organizations, as covered in ECE 2504.

Major Measurable Learning Objectives

  • identify the elements of modern instructions sets and explain their impact on processor design,
  • identify and explain the function of basic elements of a modern processor, including instruction pipelines,
  • explain the function of each element of a memory hierarchy,
  • identify and compare different methods for computer I/O,
  • explain the basic functions of an operating system and the hardware mechanisms that support these functions, and
  • compare simple computer architectures and organizations based on established performance metrics.

Course Topics


Percentage of Course

Introduction to Computer Systems
  • Architecture Classifications
  • Computer Performance Measurement
Central Processor
  • Instruction Sets & Operands
  • Fetch-Execute Cycle
  • Simple Pipelining
  • Control Unit Operation
Computer Memory Hierarchy
  • Physical Memory Operation
  • Virtual Memory Operation
  • Cache Operation
Computer I/O
  • Computer I/O Concepts
  • 1.02
Basic Operating System Functions
  • Multi-tasking
  • Virtual Memory
  • Hardware support mechanisms