Skip to the content | Change text size
PDF unit guide

FIT2069 Computer architecture - Semester 1, 2015

This unit covers the internal mechanism of computers and how they are organised and programmed. Topics include combinatorial and sequential logic, Boolean Algebra, Karnaugh maps, counters, ripple adders, tree adders, memory/addressing, busses, speed, DMA, data representation, machine arithmetic, microprogramming, caches and cache architectures, virtual memory and translation look-aside buffers, vectored interrupts, polled interrupts, pipelined architecture, superscalar architecture, data dependency, hazards, CISC, RISC, VLIW machine architectures.

Mode of Delivery

Clayton (Day)

Workload Requirements

Minimum total expected workload equals 12 hours per week comprising:

(a.) Contact hours for on-campus students:

  • Two hours of lectures
  • One 3-hour laboratory or one 2-hour tutorial (alternating weeks)

(b.) Additional requirements (all students):

  • A minimum of 7-8 hours independent study per week for preparing for and completing lab and project work, private study and revision.

See also Unit timetable information

Additional workload requirements

This is a technically oriented unit where content in any given week depends strongly on content in preceding weeks. Therefore students should plan and commit the minimum specified hours for personal study every week. Laboratory work will require preparation before attendance.

The unit content requires a strong focus on understanding content through the semester.

Unit Relationships


FIT1031 or FIT1001 and FIT1008 or FIT1015

Chief Examiner

Campus Lecturer


Dr Carlo Kopp

Consultation hours: By appointment

Your feedback to Us

Monash is committed to excellence in education and regularly seeks feedback from students, employers and staff. One of the key formal ways students have to provide feedback is through the Student Evaluation of Teaching and Units (SETU) survey. The University’s student evaluation policy requires that every unit is evaluated each year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the surveys. The feedback is anonymous and provides the Faculty with evidence of aspects that students are satisfied and areas for improvement.

For more information on Monash’s educational strategy, see: and on student evaluations, see:

Previous Student Evaluations of this Unit

In response to the last SETU of this unit, the following changes have been made:

  • Additional examples of real world hardware will be added into the lecture slides;
  • Additional supplementary reading will be added;

Student feedback has highlighted the following strength(s) in this unit:

  • "I really liked how cohesive all the topics in this unit were. 10/10 unit."
  • "Interesting subject matter, well structured and clearly refined over the years. Labs are challenging and useful. Having no assignments is great and makes sense in this unit."
  • "The content is introduced at a proper pace and each lecture builds on the previous one so the students don't feel overwhelmed by having to absorb a large amount of information in one go."
  • "The practicals were interesting and relevant The lectures were interesting and well explained. Good use of real world examples in lectures"

If you wish to view how previous students rated this unit, please go to

Academic Overview

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this unit students will have -A knowledge and understanding of:
  • combinatorial and sequential logic, Boolean Algebra, Karnaugh maps, and hazards;
  • counters, ripple adders, tree adders, memory/addressing, computer busses, logic and bus speed, and Direct Memory Access;
  • data representation for integers and floating point operands;
  • machine arithmetic, microprogramming;
  • storage hierarchies, caches and cache architectures, performance impact of caching;
  • virtual memory and translation look-aside buffers, performance impact of TLB caching;
  • vectored and polled interrupt handling;
  • pipelined architecture, superscalar architecture, data dependency, and hazards;
  • CISC, RISC, VLIW machine architectures.
Developed the skills to:
  • model combinatorial and sequential logic circuits using a simulator tool;
  • perform programming tasks in assembly code.

Unit Schedule

Week Activities Assessment
0   No formal assessment or activities are undertaken in week 0
1 Intro/History/Background; Boolean Algebra Tutorial 1
2 Karnaugh maps, Hazards; Data Representation Laboratory 1
3 Counters, Adders, Shifters, Sequential Logic Tutorial 2
4 Basic Machine Organisation Laboratory 2
5 Control Unit Design Tutorial 3
6 Instruction Sets and Design Laboratory 3
7 I/O, Interrupts, DMA Tutorial 4
8 Cache Organisation Laboratory 4
9 Mass Storage/Memory Management Tutorial 5
10 CPU Organisation/Pipelined Architectures Laboratory 5
11 Superscalar Architectures Tutorial 6
12 CISC, RISC, VLIW, Other Machine Architectures Laboratory 6
  SWOT VAC No formal assessment is undertaken in SWOT VAC
  Examination period LINK to Assessment Policy:

*Unit Schedule details will be maintained and communicated to you via your learning system.

Teaching Approach

  • Lecture and tutorials or problem classes
    This teaching and learning approach provides facilitated learning, practical exploration and peer learning.
  • Laboratory-based classes
    This teaching approach is practical learning.

Assessment Summary

Examination (3 hours): 60%; In-semester assessment: 40%

Assessment Task Value Due Date
Laboratory Exercises Total 30% (5% each) Weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12
Tutorial Exercises Total 10% (1.667% each) Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11
Examination 1 60% To be advised

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Policy

Assessment Tasks


There are 6 Tutorial Exercises each worth 1.667% of the total mark (assessed).

There are 6 Laboratory Exercises each worth 5% of the total mark (assessed, preparation required).

Tutorials and Laboratories are scheduled in alternating weeks.

Attendance is expected and strongly recommended.  This unit is tightly integrated so if students miss a Tutorial or Laboratory they will have difficulty understanding later material.

  • Assessment task 1
    Laboratory Exercises
    6 Laboratory Exercises. Individual assessment per task. Preparation required.

    Attendance is expected and strongly recommended.  This unit is tightly integrated so if students miss a Laboratory they will have difficulty understanding later material.
    Total 30% (5% each)
    Criteria for assessment:

    The criteria used to assess laboratory tasks are:

    1. All programs must assemble and execute correctly. Evidence of testing is required.
    2. Programs must meet the problem specification.
    3. Assembly code should be readable and maintainable.
    4. Programs should be documented.
    5. All algorithms should follow the style presented in laboratory examples and be correct.
    6. Logic simulator circuits must comply with the specified truth table or other functional definition.
    Due date:
    Weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12
  • Assessment task 2
    Tutorial Exercises
    6 Tutorial Exercises. Individual assessment per task.

    Attendance is expected and strongly recommended.  This unit is tightly integrated so if students miss a Tutorial they will have difficulty understanding later material.
    Total 10% (1.667% each)
    Criteria for assessment:

    The criteria used to assess submissions are:

    1. Correctness and understanding - there may be more than one "right" answer in many cases. We will look for answers that reflect understanding of the underlying principles and theories.
    2. Completeness - that you have answered all parts of each question.
    3. Presentation - that you have presented your answers in a suitably formatted style.
    4. Use of evidence and argument - you are able to explain your position by using logical argument drawing on the theory presented in the unit.
    Due date:
    Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11


  • Examination 1
    3 hours
    Type (open/closed book):
    Closed book
    Electronic devices allowed in the exam:
    Non-programmable scientific calculators will be permitted.

Learning resources

Monash Library Unit Reading List (if applicable to the unit)

Feedback to you

Types of feedback you can expect to receive in this unit are:

  • Informal feedback on progress in labs/tutes
  • Test results and feedback

Extensions and penalties

Returning assignments

Assignment submission

It is a University requirement ( for students to submit an assignment coversheet for each assessment item. Faculty Assignment coversheets can be found at Please check with your Lecturer on the submission method for your assignment coversheet (e.g. attach a file to the online assignment submission, hand-in a hard copy, or use an electronic submission). Please note that it is your responsibility to retain copies of your assessments.

Online submission

If Electronic Submission has been approved for your unit, please submit your work via the learning system for this unit, which you can access via links in the portal.

Recommended Resources


Logisim software (free)

Xspim/Spim software (free)

Supplementary Reading:

Recommended text(s)

William Stallings. (). Computer Organization and Architecture: Designing for Performance. (8th Edition) Prentice Hall (ISBN: 13: 9780136073734).

Morris Mano and Charles Kime. (). Logic and Computer Design Fundamentals. (4th Edition) Pearson Prentice Hall (ISBN: 0-13-140539-X).

Examination material or equipment

Non-programmable scientific calculators will be permitted.

Other Information


Monash has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and to provide advice on how they might uphold them. You can find Monash’s Education Policies at:

Faculty resources and policies

Important student resources including Faculty policies are located at

Graduate Attributes Policy

Student Charter

Student services

Monash University Library

Disability Liaison Unit

Students who have a disability or medical condition are welcome to contact the Disability Liaison Unit to discuss academic support services. Disability Liaison Officers (DLOs) visit all Victorian campuses on a regular basis.


Engineers Australia Stage 1 competencies

This unit is a core unit in the Bachelor of Software Engineering accredited by Engineers Australia. Engineers Australia Accreditation Policy of Professional Engineering Programs requires that programs demonstrate how engineering graduates are prepared for entry to the profession and achieve Stage 1 competencies. The following information describes how this unit contributes to the development of these competencies for the Bachelor of Software Engineering. (Note: not all competencies may be emphasised in this unit).

Stage 1 competency How the compency is developed in this unit
 1. Knowledge and Skills base  
 1.1. Comprehension, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.  The unit covers many aspects of computing fundamentals and foundations which underpins the software engineering discipline. 
 1.2. Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences, which underpin the engineering discipline.  The unit covers the concepts of computer architecture and its components underpinning the software engineering discipline. Students have the opportunity to investigate, model, design and analyse various aspects of computer architecture in the unit assessment. 

 1.3. In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline. Not covered in this unit.
 1.4. Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within th engineering discipline.  Not covered in this unit. 

 1.5. Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.

 Not covered in this unit. 
 1.6. Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the specific discipline.  Not covered in this unit. 
 2. Engineering application ability  
 2.1. Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving. Not covered in this unit.  
 2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.  Not covered in this unit. 
 2.3. Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.  Not covered in this unit. 
 2.4. Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects.  Not covered in this unit. 
 3. Professional and personal attributes  
 3.1. Ethical conduct and professional accountability. Not covered in this unit.  
 3.2. Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains. Students in tutorials and labs must explain their work to the tutors/demonstrators, as well as provide their solutions in writing.
 3.3. Creative, innovative and proactive demeanour.  Developing solutions for lab and tutorial exercises is inherently a creative endeavour.
 3.4. Professional use and management of information.  Not covered in this unit. 
 3.5. Orderly management of self, and professional conduct.  Not covered in this unit. 
 3.6. Effective team membership and team leadership.  Not covered in this unit. 

Relationship between Unit Learning Outcomes and BSE Course Outcomes

No. CO 1 CO 2 CO 3 CO 4 CO 5 CO 6 CO 7 C0 8 CO 9 CO 10 CO 11 CO 12 CO 13
 1  X                        
 2  X              X          X
 3  X              X          X
 4  X                        
 5  X                        

Relationship between Unit Learning Outcomes and Assessments

No. Assignments Tests Practical Exercises Exam
1      X  X
2      X  X
3      X  X
4      X  
5      X