MCS-284 Processor Investigation

Each of you should choose a processor to research. Come to class on the first Monday of the semester prepared to volunteer to take on a processor for your processor investigation. That day you need merely state which processor do you intend to specialize on.

For the second Monday of the semester, write a brief summary of the sort of information you found during your investigation. You should not supply me with copies of printouts of this information, but rather summarize the contents of what you found in a couple paragraphs. Assess whether the information is sufficient to carry out the remainder of the assignment during the semester and what further information might be helpful.

During the semester, you will be asked to investigate the processor, and write a very brief summary of what you discover about it in the context of the course. Share these discoveries in lecture at appropriate (or even slightly inappropriate) times during the course. This question is quite open ended, in part because the sort of information appropriate for a modern processor differs from that of an ancient one. Reasonable effort to convey information about your processor to the class will earn nearly full credit. Additional effort may increase your grade in the course according to my judgment. (I.e., extra credit is possible.)

Things you may consider investigating include

  1. Is the instruction set RISC or CISC?
  2. How complicated are the addressing modes?
  3. How many cycles per instruction?
  4. How much is pipelining used? Or, for that matter, is parallelism used at any level of the design? For instance, is there only one ALU or are there more that one that can work in parallel?
  5. Is it designed to be a parallel processor?
  6. Why were these choices made?
  7. Are there any interesting historical stories about the processor, its design, its designers or its marketing?
  8. Is/was the processor successful? Why or why not?
  9. Is there anything more of interest you wish to share?

Submit the following information:
  1. State what processor you chose to investigate.
  2. List references you found.
  3. Write about a paragraph which very briefly addresses some of the above questions in order to convince me you've read at least some of the references.
  4. Come prepared with an overhead slide or two and be prepared to address how your processor's instruction set is distinctive.