• Unit 5: Designing a Processor

    In this unit, we will discuss various components of MIPS processor architecture and then take a subset of MIPS instructions to create a simplified processor in order to better understand the steps in processor design. This unit will ask you to apply the information you learned in units 2, 3, and 4 to create a simple processor architecture. We will also discuss a technique known as pipelining, which is used to improve processor performance. We will also identify the issues that limit the performance gains that can be achieved from it.

    In previous units, you learned about how computer memory stores information, in particular how numbers are represented in a computer memory word (typically, 32 or 64 bits); hardware elements that perform logic functions; the use of these elements to design larger hardware components that perform arithmetic computations, in particular addition and multiplication; and the use of these larger components to design additional components that perform subtraction and division. You also looked at machine language and assembly language instructions that provide control to hardware components in carrying out computations. In this unit, you will learn about how the larger components are used in designing a computer system.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.

    • 5.1: Von Neumann Architecture

    • 5.2: Simple MIPS Processor Components

    • 5.3: Designing a Datapath for a Simple Processor

    • 5.4: Alternative Approach to Datapath Design and Design of a Control for a Simple Processor

    • 5.5: Pipelining and Hazards

    • 5.6: Pipelined Processor

    • 5.7: Instruction Level Parallelism

    • Unit 5 Assessment