• Offered by School of Computing
  • ANU College ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Computer Science
  • Areas of interest Information Technology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Uwe Zimmer
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Semester 1 2021.

This course lays the foundations for the understanding of CPU architectures, networking and operating systems. Additionally, it introduces topics which cut across many computer systems, such as cross-layer communication and basic concurrency (as well as basic ideas of virtualization and efficiency through proximity).

CPU architectures are discussed from first principles (digital logic) and are expanded into current day designs. This also involves assembler level programming to connect hardware circuits to the world of software. Representations of data types and high-level code at the machine level will be made clear by keeping the relations between high-level and machine-level code throughout the course. It will also look at how concurrent software constructs can or cannot be translated into parallel hardware operations. This course will cover a wide range of topics such as digital logic: transistors, gates, and combinatorial circuits; clocks; registers and register banks; arithmetic-logic units; data representation: big-endian and littleendian integers; ones and twos complement arithmetic; signed and unsigned values; Von-Neumann architecture and bottleneck; instruction sets; RISC and CISC designs; instruction pipelines and stalls; rearranging code; memory and address spaces; physical and virtual memory; interleaving; page tables; memory caches; bus architecture; polling and interrupts; DMA; device programming; assembly language; optimizations; concurrency and parallelism; and data pipelining.

Knowledge of the principles of networking and operating systems (as well as their relation to computer hardware) are essential for every computer scientist and this course will provide those foundations. The relation of assembler level building blocks (macros) to constructs in direct compiled language is demonstrated throughout the course.

While this course provides the above foundations (which stand on their own), it also prepares students for the follow-up course COMP6310 Systems, Networks and Concurrency, which rounds off the knowledge about concurrency in current computer systems of any scale, as well as expands the knowledge in networking and operating systems.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Describe the layers of architectures in computer systems from digital logic to networks.
  2. Explain how the major components of a CPU are composed (in terms of digital logic) and work together (including how data is represented on a computer).
  3. Design, implement and analyse programs in assembly language, including basic synchronization, I/O and interrupt techniques.
  4. Describe the relationship between high-level languages and assembly languages, including function calls and basic control structures.
  5. Demonstrate foundational knowledge about operating systems and networks.
  6. Express simple conditional and functional decomposition in a basic, direct compiled language (such as C).
  7. Connect conceptually hardware and software aspects of computer systems.
  8. Demonstrate the ability to migrate between all essential abstraction levels when discussing computer systems design, ranging from a software oriented view all the way through to individual digital circuits.
  9. Demonstrate a well founded understanding of the implications of machine level choices on efficiency and predictability in the context of the hardware architectures covered in the course.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Assignments, labs, tutorials (40) [LO null]
  2. Final exam (60) [LO null]
  3. (null) [LO null]

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Thirty one-hour lectures and nine two-hour laboratory sessions

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a Master of Computing or completed or currently studying COMP6700. Incompatible with COMP2300, ENGN2219 and COMP6719.

Prescribed Texts



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $4410
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5880
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2329 22 Feb 2021 01 Mar 2021 31 Mar 2021 28 May 2021 In Person N/A

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