CS 429: Spring, 2014
Computer Organization and Architecture

Instructor: Dr. Bill Young

Unique numbers: 53690, 53695, 53700
Class time: MW 2-4pm; Location: GEA 105
Office: GDC 7.810; Office Hours: MW 10am-noon and by appointment
Office Phone: 471-9782; Email: byoung@cs.utexas.edu

TA: Ji Hong; Email: jhong@cs.utexas.edu
TA Office Hours: Mon. 5-6p; GDC 6.518A
TA: Karthik Anantha Padmanabhan; Email: akarthik@utexas.edu
TA Office Hours: Monday noon-2pm, GDC 1.302
Proctor: Bulat Bazarbayev; Email: bazarbayev.bulat@utexas.edu
Proctor Office Hours: MW 10-11am; 3rd floor GDC lab
Proctor: Jonathan Lee; Email: chenclee@cs.utexas.edu
Proctor Office Hours: Tues. 7-8pm, Thurs. 4-5pm; GDC 3rd floor lab
This website: www.cs.utexas.edu/users/byoung/cs429/syllabus429.html

Important Class Announcements:

Breaking news important to the class will be posted here. Consult this spot often.

The final exam will be Wednesday, May 7, from 9am-noon in SAC 1.402. Don't make travel plans that will conflict with it. The study guide for tests 1-3 and the final is here: Study Guide. The final is comprehensive and will cover material from previous tests plus the three slidesets we covered after Test 3. You may bring two handwritten 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheets of notes (both sides) to the final.

Here are the three sample tests: Test 1, Test 2, Test 3. Here are the answers for the three tests: Test 1 answers, Test 2 answers, Test 3 answers.

Here are the answers for the three tests from this semester: Answers to Spring 2014 tests.

If you send me an email re. the class, please put "CS429" somewhere in the subject line, so I'll know to which class it refers.

Some Interesting Links:

Layout of a Program in Memory
Disk drive at work
Cache Associativity Cartoon
Ender's Game a Reality
Status of Moore's Law
Good PDP-8 reference
Nice intro to GDB
Thoughts on Endianess
x86 cheat sheet
Primer on Y86
Decimal to FP guide
x86 Assembly Guide
Moore's Law Dead?
Unix, C Hoaxes?
5 Things to Know
Indiana U. Career Overview
Jobs Prospects
Top 10 Jobs for CS Majors
Jobs with High Pay
Cities with Most CS Jobs

Course Description:

CS429 is the first course in the systems core sequence required of all UT CS majors. It describes how computers operate at a fairly low level of abstraction. For example, we'll consider: Understanding these fundamentals thoroughly is absolutely essential to your future success in computer science. The material of this course is quite detailed and requires careful and diligent study. If you are not willing to put in the time and effort required to master this material, you probably should reconsider your decision to major in Computer Science.

The students that do well in this class are survivors. This class is a lot of work, and it is important to keep current. The material in this class is cumulative; it can be quite difficult to catch up if one falls behind. It is important to keep turning in homework and come to class.

We will be discussion several different programming languages in this course: C, x86 assembly language, and Y86 assembly language. You will be writing programs in at least C and Y86.

Students are required to attend their assigned lab weekly.

Unique # Time Location TA
53690F 10am-noonGDC 4.302Ji Hong
53695F noon-2pmCLA 0.128Ji Hong
53700F 2-4pmGDC 5.302Karthik Padmanab

Using Piazza: We will be using Piazza for class communication. The Piazza system is highly catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates, the TAs, and myself. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, I encourage you to post your questions on Piazza. If you have any problems or feedback for the developers, email team@piazza.com. The Piazza class page will be posted shortly. Because of some issues last semester, posts may be anonymous to the class, but not to me. I expect that posts will be pertinent and respectful.


You are expected to have taken and passed the following courses (or equivalent) with a grade of at least C-: Computer Science 311, 311H, 313H, or 313K; Computer Science 314, 314H, 315, or 315H. If you don't have the prerequisites, be sure to clear it with the CS department or risk being dropped from the class.


The required text book for this class is Computer Systems, A Programmer's Perspective by Randal E. Bryant and David O'Hallaron, Prentice Hall, 2010. You must have this book. Note that this book is also used in CS439, so don't sell it back at the end of the semester if you plan on continuing in CS.

Since we will be programming some in C, I recommend that you have access to The C Programming Language, second edition, by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, Prentice Hall Software Series. This is available on-line. There are also many Web pages devoted to C-language programming. A nice tutorial intro to C is here: C Tutorial. Java programmers should have no problem with the subset of C that we will use.

Class Schedule and Slides:

The class schedule is here: schedule. This schedule is approximate; some dates may change.

All of the class slides will be made available via links below as we cover new material. You are welcome to print them out or view them on-line. Slides are in PDF form. They are derived from slides developed for the course by Bryant and O'Hallaron and modified by me and other professors. They are used with permission.

Introduction to C

The following is a tutorial on C generated by a UT grad student: C Tutorial

Slideset 1: Introduction to Computer Systems

Slideset 2: Bits and Bytes

Slideset 3: Integers

Slideset 4: Floating Point

Slideset 5: Digital Logic

Slideset 6: ISA I

Slideset 7: ISA II

Slideset 8: ISA III

Slideset 9: ISA IV

Slideset 10: ISA V

Slideset 11: ISA VI

Slideset 12: Datapath I

Slideset 13: Datapath II

Slideset 14: Pipelining I

Slideset 15: Pipelining II

Slideset 16: Pipelining III

Slideset 17: Pipelining IV

Slideset 18: Storage Technology

Slideset 19: Cache I

Slideset 20: Cache II

Slideset 21: Optimization I

Slideset 22: Optimization II

Slideset 20b: Amdahl's Law

Slideset 23: Linking I

Slideset 24: Linking II


There will be three in-class exams of approximately one hour each. See the schedule for dates. There will be no makeups on in-class exams, but I will drop the lowest of these three scores. The final exam will be Wednesday, May 7, from 9am-noon in SAC 1.402. Don't make travel plans that will conflict with it.


Written homework will be assigned each week. It must be submitted to your TA by the end of your discussion section, and will not be accepted late. You may work together on written assignments. This is an easy 15% of your grade so make the most of it.

You will have around 7 labs over the course of the semester. You must work alone on all labs. The due dates will be clearly marked. For labs, you will have 3 total grace days available which you can use over the course of the semester. You'd be advised to save them as long as possible to deal with illnesses and personal emergencies.

Lab1 is now available. Here is a description README and a tar file with the code tar file.

Homework 1

Homework 2

Lab 2: due 2/17

Homework 3

Homework 4

Homework 5

Lab 3: due 3/3

Homework 6

Lab 4: due 3/31

Homework 7

Homework 8

Lab 5: due 4/14

Homework 9

Homework 10

Homework 11

Lab 6: due 4/28


You are strongly encouraged to come to class. Attendance will not be checked, but my experience indicates that students who regularly miss class do poorly.

Computation of Your Grade:

The weighting of the grades for the various aspects of the course are as follows:

Component Percent
In class exams (one dropped) 30%
Final Exam 20%
Homework 15%
Labs 35%

It is very important that you do the laboratory assignments. Once a laboratory has been turned in, material concerning a laboratory may appear on an exam.

Grades for the entire course tentatively will be averaged using the weighting below:

Course score Grade
[87... 90)A-
[85... 87)B+
[80... 85)B
[77... 80)B-
[75... 77)C+
[70... 75)C
[67... 70)C-
[65... 67)D+
[60... 65)D
[ 0... 60)F

This is tentative. The grades likely will be curved and may be a bit more generous than this. They will certainly not be less generous. That is, if you have a 90 you are guaranteed an A; but somone who gets an 89 may also get an A, depending on the final distribution of grades in the class.

A course grade of at least C- is required for this course to count toward a UT CS degree.

Scholastic Dishonesty:

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. See http://www.cs.utexas.edu/academics/conduct for an excellent summary of expectations of a student in a CS class.

All work must be the student's own effort. Work by students in previous semesters is not your own effort. Don't even think about turning in such work as your own, or even using it as a basis for your work. We have very sophisticated tools to find such cheating and we use them routinely. It's far better to get a 0 on an assignment than to cheat.

No deviation from the standards of scholastic honesty or professional integrity will be tolerated. Scholastic dishonesty is a serious violation of UT policy; and will likely result in an automatic F in the course and may result in further penalties imposed by the department or by the university. Don't do it. If you are caught, you will regret it. And even if you're not caught, you're still a cheater.

Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259, http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd.

Grad Students Clearing Architecture Background Requirement

If you're a grad student who needs to complete your background requirement in Architecture by exam, I'm happy to help you with that. You can do as little as take the final exam for CS429 with a grade of at least XX%. But be aware that the exams for this class (or any class) are idiosyncratic and assume that the person taking the test is also taking the class. For example, there are questions about x86 syntax and calling conventions. You could be a world-class expert on MIPS or ARM architecture and not do well on the exam. My suggestions is to study the appropriate sections of the Bryant and O'Hallaron book, review the class slides, and take the three in-class exams. Otherwise, you risk not resolving your background deficit.