Fall 2021/CSCI 320 – Computer Architecture

Lecture: Dana 132, MWF 12:30 pm – 1:20 pm.
Lab: Breakiron 164, Thursday 1:20 pm – 3:00 pm
Cross-listed: ECEG 443/643 High-Performance Computer Architecture


Prof. Alan Marchiori


Course Summary

Use a hardware description language to describe and design digital computing systems. Topics include: processor design, pipelining, cache and storage systems, instruction, thread, and process level parallelism, speculation, and branch prediction.

Course Objectives

By the end of the semester:

  • Students will be able to express designs based on classical computer architectural concepts using appropriate engineering tools. (EAC a, b, c, k) (CAC a, c, i)
  • Students will be able to explain and apply fundamental architectural principles such as locality, optimizing common cases, and parallelism to modern architecture design. (EAC a, e) (CAC a)


The course closely follows parts of the Hennessy and Patterson Computer Architecture textbook (6e). See the schedule for the chapter/sections corresponding to each class. Some students may be successful from the provided materials alone, however, reviewing the indicated sections will significantly deepen your learning.

Required Textbook

Recommended Reference Textbooks

Attendance and Participation

An important part of the class is your active participation in lecture sections. If people do not come to lecture, come late, or do not engage while in lecture, it degrades the quality of the class for everyone. Therefore, all students are expected to attend and actively participate in all lectures. If you have to miss class for job interviews, athletics, etc, please contact the instructor at least 24 hours prior to the start of that class. If you are unable to come to class due to illness or an urgent emergency, let me know when you can. You will be responsible for making up any/all missed work. If you miss a graded activity/quiz without prior notice, you will receive a grade of zero for that activity.

In-Class Activities & Homework

Many classes will include some sort of activity. Many times you will have time to complete the activity in class. If you do not complete an activity in class, it is your homework and is due on the assigned due date. If there is no date, assume it’s due at the beginning of the next class. Activities will make up the majority of your Quizzes, Activities, Participation grade. It is your responsibility to complete the activities and submit them on Google classroom before the due date.

Lab & Project Work

This course has several multi-week lab projects that complement the lecture material. Some labs are individual assignments while others are group assignments. This will be clearly indicated in the lab. Groups will be determined and you will be expected to work with your group.

The lab projects are an important part of the course and worth 40% of the overall course grade.

Late Work

Late work is not accepted unless you receive permission from the instructor ideally >24 hours before it is due.

Effective 10/21/21 – LAB DUE DATE POLICY UPDATE:

Starting from Lab 5 and beyond submitted after 10/21/21 @ 11:59 pm, the penalty for submitting labs late will be as given below.

Up to 10 days lateNo deduction
11 days to 2 weeks late-10 points
2 to 3 weeks late-20 points
3 or more weeks late-40 points


Your instructor will make every effort to promptly return all graded work to you (usually by the next scheduled class). Projects and larger assignments will take longer (typically 1 week).  All grades will be published on Google Classroom. If you think you find a grading error, you may request a regrade. Regrade requests must be received no later than 72 hours after the assignment/exam is returned. It is possible for the new grade to be lower than the original grade. In all cases, the most recent grade is used (not the highest grade). If you would like to discuss your grade at any time, please contact me for a meeting.

The grade distribution of the components of the course is shown below. Students must pass all bold items marked with a * to pass the course (separately).

Quizzes, Activities, Participation*20%
Exam 110%
Exam 210%
Exam 310%
Final Exam*10%
Lab & Projects*40%

The standard grading scale (below) is used to assign letter grades.


Bucknell University Honor Code

As a student and citizen of the Bucknell University community:

  1. I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors.
  2. I will forthrightly oppose each and every instance of academic dishonesty.
  3. I will let my conscience guide my decision to communicate directly with any person or persons I believe to have been dishonest in academic work.
  4. I will let my conscience guide my decision on reporting breaches of academic integrity to the appropriate faculty or deans.

Expectations for Academic Engagement

Courses at Bucknell that receive one unit of academic credit have a minimum expectation of 12 hours per week of student academic engagement. Student academic engagement includes both the hours of direct faculty instruction (or its equivalent) and the hours spent on out-of-class student work.

Source: Bucknell University Academic Policies and Requirements

Access Statement

Any student who needs an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the OAR at OAR@bucknell.edu; 570-577-1188 or complete the Disability Accommodation Request form. The OAR will coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

If you have a disability and think you may need an accommodation, I encourage you to contact the OAR. The OAR is here to help and will work with you to determine appropriate accommodations. If accommodations are needed, the OAR will communicate those to me through a Letter of Accommodation. I will not be given information about the nature of your disability, only the accommodations you need. I will treat any information I receive as private and confidential. Please visit https://www.bucknell.edu/life-bucknell/diversity-equity-inclusion/accessibility-resources for more information about the OAR.