Computer Architecture and Organization

I.     Course Prefix/Number: CSC 204

       Course Name: Computer Architecture and Organization

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 1 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

CSC 155 or any higher numbered CSC course or instructor’s consent.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

A survey of the various levels of hierarchical computer architecture and design. The analysis of internal and external memory models, busses, I/O peripherals, CISC and RISC processor strategies are covered.. Additional topics include the instruction formats and addressing schemes of microprocessors such as Intel Pentium and Power PC architectures, vectorizing multiprocessors and muticomputer systems.

IV.   Learning Objectives

A. Review the historical development of computers and computer architectures.
B. Understand information representation, error detection/correction schemes and digital logic.
C. Identify the basic components of computer organization and understand how they work together.
D. Learn the format of instruction sets and the operation of the instruction cycle.
E. Survey the hierarchical internal and external memory organization strategies.
F. Recognize current superscalar microprocessor and multiprocessor models in today's market.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

A. Background and introductions
    1. performance metrics
    2. arithmetic representation
        a. integer
        b. floating point

B. Organization of computer systems
    1. bus strategies
    2. internal memory and cache hierarchies
    3. external memory
        a. disk
        b. tape
    4. I/O channels and processors

C. CPU components
1. register organization
a. RISC strategies
2. pipeline/superscalar processors
3. instruction sets and addressing formats

D. Current architectures
    1. commodity microprocessors
        a. Intel
        b. Power PC
    2. multiprocessors
    3. multicomputers

Suggested 16 week syllabus:

Week/Chapter/Lecture Laboratory Activities

1 1-2 Introduction-Computer Evolution and Performance
2 3 Systems Buses Compiler optimizations
3 4 Internal Memory
4 5 External Memory
5 6 Input/Output Internal vs. external memory
6 Exam 1
7 Appendix A Digital Logic
8 8 Computer Arithmetic Digital logic
9 9 Instruction Sets
10 10 Instructions Sets Elementary assembler programming
11 Exam 2
12 11 CPU Structure and Function
13 12 Reduced Instruction Set Computers (RISC) CPU registers and instruction flags
14 13 Superscalar Processors
15 16 Parallel Processing Elementary multiprogramming
16 Final Exam

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lectures, class discussions, individual and group projects and use of a computer laboratory.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Reading of the text is required as is use of a computer laboratory in order to complete the computer assignments.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Within the Schedule of Classes, textbooks can be found by clicking on an individual course section and looking for the words "View Book Information".

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Quizzes, examinations, final examination, individual and group programming assignments.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at