Introduction

Welcome!

The Computer System Architecture Lab (CSAL) products are designed to accompany Computer Organization/Architecture courses in the computer science curriculum or in a related curriculum. They are also valuable learning tools for engineers and hobbyists.

Our model computer kits build simple but rich-in-information versions of the typical stored-program-computer model: RAM - CPU - I/O. The figure below shows the overall functionality of our educational model computer system that a student builds at logic circuit level (e.g., by interconnecting logic gates, flip-flops, counters, decoders, RAM, etc.). A special feature of this model computer is its compact simplicity: it implements all of the shown functionality using a RAM containing sixteen 4-bit locations.




You can enrich your teaching/learning by choosing one of the three products below:

Basic Computer (BC) kit: physically builds a basic CPU version of the model computer above via breadboarding SSI chips
Simulation Model (SM) kit : guides in building all or parts of the model computer above via a logic circuit simulator.
BC & SM kit: contains both the BC kit and the SM kit listed above.

The Basic Computer (BC) kit choice is for the student who likes to build with real hardware to produce a real operational model computer. A student constructs a target model computer through a series of projects that spans an academic quarter or a semester via breadboarding SSI circuit chips such as logic gates, flip-flops, counters, decoders, buffers, etc. The lab manual guiding a student is self contained and provides the background knowledge the projects require. The BC model computer can be built within a department lab and/or outside the lab as a take-home term project. This model requires approximately 20 hours of construction time.

The SM kit is a practical choice if you are already familiar with basic electronics hardware such as circuit chips, power supply, LED's, etc. With SM kit, instead of breadboarding physical circuit chips and connecting them via physicla wires, using the GUI of a logic circuit simulator, you put on the screen graphical circuit symbols and interconnect them via lines. You first construct the Basic Computer model, and then extend it with other modules in any sequence you prefer. In the side-bar menu, please click on "Simulation Model" to see the detailed description of these CPU modules. This kit includes an instruction manual for constructing the SM model, and a CD (for Windows OS only) containing a free widely-popular logic-circuit simulator used at a large number of US universities. You can also download free OS specific version of this simulator (e.g., for Mac OS or for Windows) from its web address given in the instruction manual.

The BC & SM kit gives you best of the both worlds. The BC kit gives you hands-on and cognitive experience with physical hardware so that you will know what you will be simulating, and the SM kit enables you to quickly construct the totality of the computer.

SPECIAL OFFER: The price for the BC & SM kit = price for the BC kit + One Dollar.

The simulation of the model computer displayed in the figure above produces a machine-language-level working example of a modern-day computer system structure as illustrated below. This is an operational framework that shows how {OS, Application Programs, Hardware } components relate to each other and function as parts of a system.


The CSAL is designed to be simple enough to make these projects fun, but rich enough to clearly provide for hardware and software level understanding of a stored-program computer system. Enjoy!!!