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SPECIAL FEATURE: Extending Register-Transfer Technology to Teach Computer Architecture

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131225D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 6 page(s) / 29K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

J. B. Gosling: AUTHOR [+5]

Abstract

The modern approach in teaching computer architecture is to describe the computing machine in terms of its major units (store, processor, etc.) and then to describe each of these units in progressively greater detail. This contrasts with the earlier approach in which individual gating circuits were described, and later developed into larger units. The older approach lends itself well to laboratory work in which a few components or circuits may be assembled and tested in a short time. The cost of this is small, and a whole class of students may perform a useful exercise with relatively small overhead. In contrast, the modern approach requires the student to design and/or modify a complete computer structure from relatively large units. Providing sufficient equipment to support this approach is too expensive to contemplate. The advent of microcomputers opens up a number of possibilities, but none is helpful where experiments with basic structure and operation codes are involved, since a large part of the design is fixed. At the other end of the scale, designing with TTL circuits is at too low a level to allow a significant piece of equipment to be built by one or two students in a few days. Between these two extremes falls the Register Transfer Modules* (RTM'S). 1-2 Each module is large enough to form a sensible sub-unit, but small enough to allow the system designer real scope. Experience suggests that after a few days familiarizing himself with RTM'S, the student can develop a simple design in about one day. 3 [Footnote] * RTM is a registered trade mark of the Digital Equipment Corporation, Maynard. Mass. RTM systems are also marketed under the name PDP16. The following sections discuss the requirements of a teaching laboratory in relation to the teaching of computer architecture and suggest how RTM'S may be used to meet those requirements. Since a read-write microprogram store module would be extremely useful if not actually essential for this purpose, the design of such a module is also described.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1978 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society http://www.computer.org/ (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Extending Register-Transfer Technology to Teach Computer Architecture

J. B. Gosling , S. H. Lavington , and J. M. Kelley

University of Manchester

J. B. Gosling , S. H. Lavington , and J. M. Kelley University of Manchester

Introduction

The modern approach in teaching computer architecture is to describe the computing machine in terms of its major units (store, processor, etc.) and then to describe each of these units in progressively greater detail. This contrasts with the earlier approach in which individual gating circuits were described, and later developed into larger units. The older approach lends itself well to laboratory work in which a few components or circuits may be assembled and tested in a short time. The cost of this is small, and a whole class of students may perform a useful exercise with relatively small overhead. In contrast, the modern approach requires the student to design and/or modify a complete computer structure from relatively large units. Providing sufficient equipment to support this approach is too expensive to contemplate.

The advent of microcomputers opens up a number of possibilities, but none is helpful where experiments with basic structure and operation codes are involved, since a large part of the design is fixed. At the other end of the scale, designing with TTL circuits is at too low a level to allow a significant piece of equipment to be built by one or two students in a few days. Between these two extremes falls the Register Transfer Modules* (RTM'S).1-2 Each module is large enough to form a sensible sub-unit, but small enough to allow the system designer real scope. Experience suggests that after a few days familiarizing himself with RTM'S, the student can develop a simple design in about one day.3

1

The following sections discuss the requirements of a teaching laboratory in relation to the teaching of computer architecture and suggest how RTM'S may be used to meet those requirements. Since a read-write microprogram store module would be extremely useful if not actually essential for this purpose, the design of such a module is also described.

Role of RTM'S in teaching

In computer architecture laboratories, there are two different requirements for student exercises. In the earlier stages of a course, a student will undertake relatively simple formal experiments lasting a maximum of one day. At a later stage he may undertake a much more ambitious project. In our own department, such projects may take two students up to 250 hours each, spread over a 5-month...