Systems Architecture

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Systems Architecture

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Computer Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview



    1. Explain the basic concepts, historical objectives, and modern functions of digital computers.
    2. Describe the basic architecture and operation of digital computers.
    3. Use proficiently binary data representation, number representation, and arithmetic and data conversion.
    4. Explain at a proficient level the architecture and operation of each of the main components of a digital computer: the basic processing unit, the hierarchical memory system, the I/O system, and the interconnection system.
    5. Explain at a basic level various system mechanisms for building faster single-node systems, such as pipelining and caching, and large-scale systems, such as interconnects and program synchronization.
    6. Demonstrate proficiency with basic assembly programming by implementing basic operations of digital computing in realistic scenarios.
    7. Analyze at a basic level the tradeoffs inherent in the design of digital computers, concerning among others performance (simple modeling), scalability (Amdahl's Law), availability, energy consumption, and cost.

    Computers are everywhere, in industry, academia, governance, and many other activities that impact our society. But what are they? How do they work? How to analyze them and to improve their performance?

    Matching the requirements of the IEEE/ACM CS Curriculum 2013, topics for this course include: the architecture, the structure, the operation and the interconnection of computer components into computer systems, including modern architectures, data representation, assembler programming, virtual machines, the structure of translators, compiling and loading, basic operating systems concepts (I/O, interrupt handling, process).

    Lectures 4h/week Tutorial (Instructie) 2h/week Practical work (Lab) 4h/week, from week 4. Self-study in teams of 4-6 students. This course uses gamification.

    Basic lab assignments.
    Final exam, written multiple choice.
    In-class exercises, oral and written.
    Mid-term exam, written, multiple choice. The results of the mid-term exam count only if the final exam is also taken by the student, and only if it increases the final grade of the student.
    Self-study booklet, hand-written. (Turn in to TA)
    Advanced lab assignments. (Turn in to SAs)
    Bonus lab assignments. (Turn in to SAs)

    All partial results (including the lab, and the mid-term and final exams) are only valid during one academic year. The end grade is the total number of points acummulated across all assessment possibilities scored divided by 1000. It is possible to score a perfect 10 as final grade.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


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