Artificial Intelligence (3 Years) [BSc]

System Architecture

Unit code: COMP25212
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by School of Computer Science
Available as a free choice unit?: Y



Additional Requirements

Students who are not from the School of Computer Science must have permission from both Computer Science and their home School to enrol.


The aims of this course are to introduce the most important system architecture approaches. To give a wider understanding of how real systems operate and, from that understanding, the ability to optimise their use.


The basic architecture of computer systems has been covered in first year course units which detailed both the instruction set architecture and the micro-architecture (hardware structure) of simple processors. Although these principle underlie the vast majority of modern computers, there are a wide range of both hardware and software techniques which are employed to increase the performance, reliability and flexibility of systems.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes are detailed on the COMP25212 course unit syllabus page on the School of Computer Science's website for current students.

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 80%
  • Practical skills assessment - 20%



The motivation behind advanced architectural techniques.


The need to overcome latency. Caching as a principle, examples of caching in practice. Processor cache structure and operation.


Principles of pipelining. Implementation of a processor pipeline and its properties. Pipelining requirements and limitations. Additional support for pipelining.


Basic multi-threading principles. Processor support for multi-threading. Simultaneous multi-threading.


Motivation for multi-core. Possible multi-core structures. Cache coherence.

File System Support

Implementation of file systems. RAID

Virtual Machines

Motivation for Virtual Machines. Language Virtual Machines. System Virtual Machines. Virtual Machine implementation. Binary Translation

Recommended reading

COMP25212 reading list can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 2 hours
  • Lectures - 22 hours
  • Practical classes & workshops - 12 hours
  • Independent study hours - 62 hours

Teaching staff

Javier Navaridas - Unit coordinator

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