1. Title and Abbreviated title change.
The new title better conveys the course's content. Microprocessor architecture is a term with a narrower and more specific meaning, pertaining directly to the design of the logic and overall organization of microprocessors. The older title is broader and possibly misleading to students and other stake holders.
The new abbreviation better matches the new title.
The proposed change is to add ECE 209 and 212 as the prerequisite. ECE 209 covers programming with data structures and the C programming language. Substantial prior programming experience is required for this course because students implement simulators of computer architecture components. While ECE 209 is already required for both CPE and EE students, currently, there is nothing preventing students from taking ECE 463 before ECE 209. Making ECE 209 a prerequisite of ECE 463 enforces the correct course sequence.
ECE 212 is required for the basics of digital systems design. ECE 310 (formerly 406 and listed as a prerequisite) could be selected instead of 212, but the more advanced material covered in 310 is not strictly required for the material in this course.
3. Catalog description:
The current catalog description is outdated. For example, ECE 463 is primarily concerned about uniprocessor design and not multiprocessor design, so reference to the latter has been removed. On the other hand, the enumeration of processor topics has been made more descriptive and comprehensive.
Processor technology evolves rapidly and semiconductor technology trends cause emphasis to shift from one performance metric to another (for example, power consumption, cycle time, etc.). Faculty in charge of ECE 463 continuously update the content of the course accordingly. Note that the fundamental content has not changed.
Rather, certain outdated aspects receive less emphasis, certain other aspects receive more emphasis (e.g., virtual memory, critical paths and cycle time impact, etc.), and new aspects are introduced (e.g., modeling energy consumption in projects).
5. Student learning outcomes:
Student learning outcomes are described more comprehensively and in more depth. This is a result of continuous assessment consistent with ABET goals.
6. Dual Level Listing
463 and 521 are currently co-taught as a dual listed course sequence. Under new rules, the dual listed course must be numbered 563. So, we will add that as a new course and later drop 521.
The difference in requirements between 463 and 563 are enumerated in the Student Evaluation Methods. There are two main differences: (1) projects for 463 have substantially reduced scope compared to 563, and (2) the midterm and final exam have additional questions for 563 students that demand greater or deeper mastery of the material.