CSE logo University of Washington Department of Computer Science & Engineering
 CSE 378, Winter 2007
 Machine Organization and Assembly Language Programming
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Course Overview

Course Goals

Machine architectures define interfaces - specifications of what can be done and how to make those things happen. Architectures are typically thought of as the lowest level interface in a system, the one defined by the hardware. Complicated software behavior is obtained by layering many interfaces on top of this lowest level one - e.g., the operating system, the language runtime, a set of libraries/packages, and the application code.

This course typically looks down from the architecture interface, concentrating on how to build hardware systems that implement it efficiently. We will do that as well, following the book to concentrate on critical components of the hardware organization, in particular the central processing unit (CPU) and memory subsystem.

More than in most instances of 378, though, I'd like to spend a little time also looking up from the architecture interface, to explain the role of other system components (e.g., compilers, linkers, and the operating system), how their jobs are affected by the architecture, and what the architecture must do to support them.

By the end of the quarter, you should understand not only the fundamentals of how machines are built (and why they're built that way), but also the fundamentals of how computer systems operate. (And you may have learned a bit of C along the way as well.)


CSE 303 - Reasonable familiarity with C, including the concepts of linking and the run time library.

CSE 370 - Especially computer organization and some of the material in the finite state machines topic.


There will be homework. In all cases the goal of the homework is to help motivate you to learn the material, and to help verify that you've done so. The majority of the homeworks will be done using SMOK/Cebollita, and are cumulative: each successive homework builds upon the previous one, either directly, as a modification of an earlier machine design, or more indirectly, making use of the key concepts from the earlier homework.

Most of the homeworks will be done in (randomly assigned) teams.

Course Participation

I'd like this to be an interactive class. Interaction with the instructor and the TAs in class and during office hours is highly encouraged. "Appropriate" interaction with each other, say through the class mail list, is also encouraged. (See the Policies section for some guidance on what "appropriate" might mean.)


There will be two mideterms. The dates on which they will be held could change (e.g., if we get off schedule in the lectures).


Grades will be assigned roughly as follows:


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