ECE 4504 Computer Organization | ECE | Virginia Tech

Undergraduate PROGRAMS

Course Information


Overview of the structure, elements and analysis of modern enterprise computers. Performance evaluation of commercial computing. Past and emerging technology trends. Impact of parallelism at multiple levels of computer architecture. Memory and storage. Fundamental computer system descriptions, Amdahl's Law, Flynn's and Taxonomy.

Why take this course?

A senior level elective in computer organization is a standard part of most computer engineering and computer science programs. While all CPE and CS students get a basic foundation in computer organization in lower-level required courses, students who wish to pursue careers or graduate study in computer architecture or computer systems need an advanced course that covers the principles and contemporary trends in computer organization.


A grade of C or better required in prerequisites. Pre: 2504 or CS 3214.

Pre: ECE 2504 or CS 3214. Either 2504 (Introduction to Computer Engineering) or CS 3214 (Computer Systems) provides necessary background in basic computer architecture and systems.

Major Measurable Learning Objectives

  • Compare several recent commercial computer architectures.
  • Distinguish different categories of parallelism in computer architecture.
  • Analyze computer systems using Amdahl's Law.
  • Describe how processors and memory interact to affect performance.
  • Use metrics to evaluate architectural features.

Course Topics


Percentage of Course

1. Evaluation Metrics 20%
2. Recent Commercial Computer Architectures 20%
3. Levels of Computer Parallelism 20%
4. Processor - Memory Relationships 15%
5. Trends in Computer Architecture 15%
6. Storage 10%