Fall 2020 - CMPT 295 E100

Introduction to Computer Systems (3)

Class Number: 6254

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 4:30 PM – 5:20 PM

    Fr 4:30 PM – 6:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 17, 2020
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Either (MACM 101 and ((CMPT 125 and CMPT 127) or CMPT 135)) or (MATH 151 and CMPT 102 for students in an Applied Physics program).



The curriculum introduces students to topics in computer architecture that are considered fundamental to an understanding of the digital systems underpinnings of computer systems. Students with credits for CMPT 150 or 250 may not take this course for further credit.


This course should develop students' sense of what really happens when software runs — and that this question can be answered at several levels of abstraction, including the hardware architecture level, the assembly level and the C programming level. The core around which the course is built is C, assembly, and low-level data representation, but this is connected to higher levels (roughly how basic other programming langauges could could be implemented), lower levels (the general structure of a processor), and the role of the processor and its how it is implemented. This course provides an introduction to computer organization, systems programming and the hardware/software interface. Topics include instruction sets, computer arithmetic, datapath design, data formats, addressing modes, memory hierarchies including caches and virtual memory, and multicore architectures. Students learn assembly language programming and design a pipelined RISC V processor. The course is open to any undergraduate who has mastered the 120s material. #### RISC V This version of the course will study the core components in computer architecture through the lens of the RISC-V (V : Five) ISA. What is RISC V? It is a modern open source instruction set that enables students to learn both assembly-level programming and the digital design of a processor. **This course is a hands-on, programming-heavy course**. Expect to get down and get your hands dirty with C programming and hardware design. We will discuss the fundamental design and engineering trade-offs in computer architecture at every level.


  • RISC-V
  • Bits, Arrays, Pointers
  • Number formats
  • Caches
  • Memory allocator
  • Processor Pipeline and Digital logic
  • Parallelism


  • Assignments (60%) Midterm (15%) Final (15%) Labs (5%) Quizes (5%) Students must attain an overall passing grade on the weighted average of exams in the course in order to obtain a clear pass (C- or better).



Computer organization and design : the hardware/software interface , David A. Patterson author John L. Hennessy, https://sfu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=01SFUL_ALMA21273827150003611&context=L&vid=SFUL&lang=en_US&search_scope=default_scope&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&isFrbr=true&tab=default_tab&query=any,contains,risc%20v&facet=rtype,exact,books&facet=frbrgroupid,include,464472613
ISBN: 9780128122754

All of Programming, Andrew Hilton and Anne Bracy, https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=-zViCgAAQBAJ&pcampaignid=books_web_aboutlink

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).