Besides a mathematical inclination, an exceptionally good mastery of one's native tongue is the most vital asset of a competent programmer.
- Edsger W. Dijkstra, 1975

Term Paper: an Interesting CPU

CS 341 Spring 2002 students will write a term paper on an interesting computer.

You are to choose a machine (ie a CPU), in consultation with me to avoid overlap and make sure you have something appropriate, and write about it. You should describe the features of the CPU, and what (if anything) makes it interesting. You should put it in historical context, and describe it technically. For instance, the Intel 8080 was descended from the Intel 4004, and led to the Intel 8086 which was the first in a family that now includes the Intel Pentium, as well as implementations of the same architecture from other manufacturers. The 8080 had an 8-bit register bank, with two special registers that some instructions would treat as a single 16-bit unit. Etc.

Your intended audience is other students in this class. After reading your paper, someone should be able to talk cogently about the CPU you describe, at a reasonably detailed level. Certainly they should have a rough idea of what its registers looked like, what sorts of instructions were available, how it dealt with memory, what its word size was, where it fell on the RISC-vs-CISC continuum, what its intended market was, and any unusual features it possessed.

Restrictions and format: no more than four pages long, not including any ``major'' figures or diagrams. Feel free to draw figures and diagrams by hand, ie don't waste enormous amounts of time in a drawing program. Style counts: spelling, grammar, readability, coherence.

If you turn in the paper in machine-readable format, please use something I can read, like plain ASCII or clean HTML or PDF. I'll plan to post the best papers on the web; if you don't want yours posted, please say so at the top. (I'll give you a chance to make revisions before posting.)

Lastly, and I feel funny mentioning this but just to be explicit ... You must conform with the university's ``academic honesty'' policy by writing all the text yourself. In particular you should not copy text from books or papers or cut-and-paste off the web. All text should be written specifically for this assignment, and in your own voice. You must cite all sources using standard academic citation styles, and indicate direct quotes (if any) using the usual textual conventions.

Due date: Midnight, Monday May 6. But papers handed in by midnight, Thursday May 2 will receive extra credit.

(Some still-available juicy machines: Cray 1, CDC 6600, ENIAC, Intel IA-64, Thinking Machines CM-3.)