Summer 2023 - CMPT 295 D100

Introduction to Computer Systems (3)

Class Number: 3975

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Mon, 12:30–1:20 p.m.

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Thu, 12:30–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 8, 2023
    Tue, 8:30–10:30 a.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Either (MACM 101 and (CMPT 125 or CMPT 135)) or (MATH 151 and CMPT 102 for students in an Applied Physics program), all with a minimum grade of C-.



The curriculum introduces students to topics in computer architecture that are considered fundamental to an understanding of the digital systems underpinnings of computer systems.


Visit the instructor's page, section Check Yourself: 2. Run, and be completely comfortable running, the program noted within the link. 3. Run it in CSIL and remotely to CSIL. Please contact with any questions."
Overview: 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. 

Course Offer Plan:
- Lab: There will be dedicated lab days. (required lab). Attendance is required and counts towards your overall grade.zoom/in-person 
- Biweekly quizzes - There will be quiz every week administer and graded online. These will be graded. **Instructor Hours (50 minute session) will be instructor hours. Synchronous 1-1 sessions that you can reserve (zoom).
- Lecture (1hr 50minute) will be in-person lecture day. I will be on presenting the major concepts fom the week's module. Further time will be spent on answering class-wide questions.
- Videos - All lecture content will be made available as videos atleast 1 week prior. The expectation is that these videos are watched prior to the class. 

Text books

 Please try and obtain the eversions of these text books. Please continue to check our course outline for further information. Should this course be taught remotely due to pandemic, students must have access to a computer with internet access, allowing the use of a conferencing system such as Zoom or BB Collaborate Ultra. Some components of the course will require synchronous (real-time) participation during the scheduled lecture and/or exam times. Visual proctoring will most likely be required for midterms and exams. Midterms and Exams will be held in person.

Workload comments

 The comments below are provided based on past student experience. It is to enable you to appropriately select the term in which you take 295. As the first introduction to systems, 295 is an intense course and requires 1) watching 3hrs of async. video /week 2) 1hr50m of in-class activity 3) 20m of quizes/week 4) 1 hr of labs/week 5) 5 hrs / week for take-home programming assignments (assumes familiarity with C/C++). Your learning outcomes in 295 are highly dependent on whether you are comfortable with the material, and C/C++ programming from 125 and 135. 295 is set up to make you a better programmer and this requires the student to invest the requisite time. As our grading distribution shows; all components are equally important. Hence, please take it in the term that you can dedicate the time.

Prerequisite notes:

Programming skills (C++ or C). Basic background at Unix/Linux. Essential C PDF (We assume familiarity with the Essential programming constructs listed in the pdf).
Unix Programming Tool PDF (We assume familiarity with basic unix shell programming tools) We assume linux environmental experience; typically obtained through CMPT 127, 135 or related course at SFU. All assignments and lab in this course are administered through the linux environment and shell.

  • We expect prereq courses to administer the requisite C or C++ knowledge with experience in working with linux terminal/shell. If you do not have this experience; please head to the tutorials page and follow the tutorials, and self-learn using the videos we post and recommend. All assignments and lab in this course are administered through the linux environment and assume you have the prerequisites.
  • Need to have working experience
  • A computer. with a webcam, required to take a verification photo during quizzes (and optionally also for office hours, etc). If you don’t have a webcam but do have a phone, I’ll point out EpocCam.
  • that is powerful enough to run a VM: at least 8 GB memory, 20 GB disk, reasonably decent processor (not too old, not a Celeron or macbook air).
  • a stable internet connection.
  • participation during the lecture time required for the quizzes.


  • RISC-V
  • Bits, Arrays, Pointers
  • Number formats
  • Memory layout
  • Caches
  • Vectorization
  • Processor Pipeline and Digital logic
  • Parallelism
  • Logical and arithmetic operations
  • Floating point



Tentative: 6 Programming assignments (30%) 1 Midterm (30%) 1 Final (35%) 9-10 Weekly 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 RISC-V Edition
David A. Patterson, John L. Hennessy,
ISBN: 9780128203316

All of Programming
Andrew Hilton and Anne Bracy


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.