Politecnico di Milano

A. A. 2017-2018 Second Semester (Spring 2018)

Advanced Computer Architectures - 088949
Session A-L (included)

Prof. Cristina Silvano -

Teaching Assistant: Prof. Giovanni Agosta -

Teaching Assistant: Prof. Gerardo Pelosi -


Course INFO

Schedule: Second Semester 2017-2018
MONDAY 10.15 - 12.15 : D.0.3 Campus Leonardo 
WEDNESDAY  10.15 - 12.15 Room: L.26.15 Campus Leonardo 

Office hours for students (Ricevimento studenti): Monday 14.00 - 15.00 at DEIB, Via Ponzio 34/5 First floor Internal phone number: 3692 (please send an email to get an appointment).

Main Contact: The students can contact prof. Cristina Silvano by  e-mail ( by indicating:

Course objectives: Main goal of the course is that the student understands all the major concepts used in modern microprocessors by the end of the semester.The course will cover the different forms of parallelism found in applications (instruction-level, data-level, thread-level, gate-level) and how these can be exploited with various architectural features. It will cover pipelining, superscalar, speculative and out-of-order execution, vector machines, VLIW machines, multithreading, graphics processing units, and parallel microprocessors. Final goal is to show how the software interacts with the hardware to provide performance and how trends in technology, application and economics have driven and drive continuing changes in the field.


Main lectures topics:

  1. Review of basic computer architecture: the RISC approach and pipelining, the memory hierarchy

  2. Basic performance evaluation metrics of computer architectures

  3. Techniques for performance optimization: processor and memory

  4. Instruction level parallelism: static and dynamic scheduling; superscalar architectures: principles and problems; VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) architectures, examples of architecture families

  5. Thread-level parallelism: architetctures

  6. Multiprocessors and multicore systems: taxonomy, topologies, communication management, memory management, cache coherency protocols, example of architectures

  7. Stream processors and vector processors; Graphic Processors, GPGPU


PRE-REQUIREMENTS: Basic concepts of logic design and computer architectures


Teaching Activity: The course consists of 5 CFU and it is organized in 30 hours of lectures and 20 hours of written/tool-based  exercises to prove the concepts presented during the lectures. 

FINAL EXAM: The final exam consists of a written exam.

Details: For each written exam, a max. score of 32 points will be assigned to 6 questions: max. 16 points will be assigned for the solution of the exercise part (composed of 3 questions) and max. 16 points will be assigned for answering to the theory part (composed of 3 questions). It is possible to ask an OPTIONAL project to the instructor. The project must be concluded before each written exam session (firm deadline). The project assign an additional score up to max 12 points. The additional points given by the project will be added to the score of the written exam only if the final score of the written exam will be sufficient (>=18 points).

Teaching materials: 

  • Notes of the lectures and slides provided on this web page. If you're using MOZILLA FIREFOX AS WEB BROWSER, for a correct visualisation and printing of the PDF SLIDES, please use the SAVE AS option and save the PDF FILE on your laptop for correct visualisation and printing.

  • Reference Book: "Computer Architecture, A Quantitative Approach", John Hennessy, David Patterson, Morgan Kaufmann, Fifth Edition.

  • Additional Book: "Computer Organization & Design: The Hardware/Software Interface",  D. A. Patterson and J. L. Hennessy, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Fifth Edition.

Support for the students:

  • ACA course is offered in English

  • Teaching materials (slides/papers/textbook) available in English

  • Final exam can be done in English

  • Teaching support available in English and in Italian

  • Please notice international students of UIC have to follow the course HPPS (High Perfomance Processors and System) held by prof. Donatella Sciuto (HPPS Course is merged with ACA Course Session M-Z).