Lecture 09 - Von Neumann Model, ISA, LC-3 and MIPS


Stopped at 28:10, beginning of LC-3.


Reading Notes

Lecture Minutes

  • 04:50 Combinational and sequential circuits are assumed to be learned. We can build decision elements and storage elements by using them. They are basic elements of a computer. Computer needs data and program which is set of instructions. instruction is defined.

  • 06:20 We need a model to build a computer. A fundamental model in 1946 was proposed by Jonn von Neumann. He proposed a model in [von1946preliminary]. The model consists of 5 parts: Memory, Processing Unit, Input, Output and Control Unit

  • 08:00 Two architecture will be covered: LC-3, MIPS

  • 08:15 The von Neumann model:


    Taken directly from the lecture notes. © belongs to Prof. Mutlu

  • 09:00 Solid lines move data, they are data lines. Dash lines are control lines.

  • 10:00 Memory stores data and programs (both). Memory contains bits. Bits are grouped into bytes (8 bits) and words (8, 16, 32 bits). Size of word is defined for particular architecture. How bits are accessed determines the addressability. For example word-addressable or byte-addressable (8-bit addressable). Total number of addresses is the address space. For example 2^16 address space requires 16-bit address.

  • 12:30 In word-addressable memory, each data word has a unique address. Similarly in byte-addressable memory each byte has a unique address.

  • 15:10 endianness is defined.

  • 16:30 Is it really important? No, it is a convention. As far as we don’t exchange data between two system, we will be safe.

  • 17:30 There are two ways of accessing memory. For reading or loading and for writing and storing. Two registers are defined: MAR (Memory Address Register) and MBR (Memory Data Register). For reading 1) load MAR with the address. 2) Memory will place data in MDR. For reading 1) load MAR with address and MDR with data 2) Activate write enable signal.

  • 19:15 Processing unit has many functional units. Let’s start with ALU. Example instructions: ADD, AND, NOT, sub, mult, nor, sll, slr, slt. There are also registers. For every operation no need to access memory. A register typically holds one word. See register and register set. Each register may have specific usage for a processır.

  • 25:10 Input and put are called peripherals like keyboard, monitor, etc.

  • 25:45 Control unit is the conductor of the orchestra. Currently executed instruction is stored in instruction register (IR). Another register is needed to keep the address of the next instruction execute called program counter (PC) or instruction pointer (IP).

  • 27:20 Programmer sees memory, registers (may include IR) and program counter. Values can be modified using instructions.



Arithmetic and Logic Unit

big endian

Address of MSB (most significant byte) is smaller than address of LSB (least significant byte). For example MSB is at byte address 0, LSB is at byte address 3. Check little endian and endianness


Let’s say that our word length is 32 bit and memory is byte addressable. In each word, there are 4 separately accessible byte locations. Which one has address 0 and which one has address 3? We prefer ordered sequence either 0-1-2-3 or 3-2-1-0. Check little endian and big endian. The term comes from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels book. A story about broking eggs. Here is a picture:


Taken directly from the lecture notes. © belongs to Prof. Mutlu

Here is the summary:


Taken directly from the lecture notes. © belongs to Prof. Mutlu


The smallest piece of work in a computer.

little endian

Address of MSB (most significant byte) is greater than address of LSB (least significant byte). For example MSB is at byte address 3, LSB is at byte address 0. Check big endian and endianness


Fast and generally word sized memory in processing unit

register set

Also known as register set is collection of register. For example, LC-3 has 8 general purpose registers (GPR). MIPS has 32 registers.


The ALU processes quantities that are referred as words

word length

Length of a :term`word`. MIPS is 32 bits for example.