CS 354 Computer Organization and Systems Fall 2017 

Term Project

The goals of this project include giving you an opportunity to investigate topics not covered in class, customizing material to your interests, allowing you to gain expertise in a particular area, learning what are and how to effectively use relevant sources of information, and improving your public speaking preparation and delivery skills. The four phases of this project include topic selection, bibliography preparation, presentation, and final paper. Each of the required elements is now described.
Grade Element Possible Points
Topic 5
Bibliography 15
Presentation 40
Final Paper 40
Total Possible Points 100


Your paper will cover some aspect of computer hardware. Some suggestions include, but not limited to:

  • biocomputing
  • optical computing
  • quantum computing
  • bus (ide, scsi, vme, isa, pci, etc)
  • network (ethernet, token ring, etc)
  • processor architecture (ARM, pentium, alpha, merced, powerPC, sparc, etc)
  • memory architectures
  • parallel computing
  • display technology
  • hardcopy technology
  • storage technology
  • I/O technology
  • Human Computer Interaction technology
  • Signal Processing Hardware (Audio, Video, etc)
  • Circuits and algorithms for fast mathematical operations
A paragraph (roughly 200 words) describing the topic and scope of your paper must be sent via email to me by the due date. You should include a statement of the importance of the topic and why it is of interest to you. After reading your proposal, I may suggest you broaden, narrow, or possibly change your topic. Once your topic is agreed upon, you will need to consult me regarding any changes you might want to make later in the term.

One way to approach this project is to imagine the following senario. You have just been hired as VP of widget technology at Dave's House of Computing. Dave has just made billions in the stock market and would like to diversify his company. Dave has hired you because of you expertise in widgets. You need to justify your existance by presenting a research and development plan to the executive board, where you anticipate their embrace of your proposal.


You must review between 10 and 20 articles. Internet, newspaper, and trade magazine articles can be useful, but the majority of articles must be from books, journals, or conference proceedings. You also must have a variety of sources and authors. When reading each article, try and answer the following questions:

  • What is the main point?
  • What is the relevance of the research?
  • What things were measured?
  • What are the results?
  • What are the conclusions?
  • Are the conclusions valid?
  • Is the methodology valid?
  • How does this relate to my project?
The list of articles and a summary of each article addressing these points (if applicable) is required by the due date. Your must also submit the articles. Since references more than 3 years old are of historical note only, most of your sources must be at most 3 years old.

Where can I find sources? You can find articles through the links on the news sites listed below and the Computer Architecture Web Page. You can search net for Conferences pertaining to computer architecture, such as Architecture Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS), International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA), MICRO, and High Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA). You might also look at patents on the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Google Patent Search Page. Wikipedia is not a valid reference source (you might consider using it for a starting point for finding other references). Also, ask a librarian! They are here to help you with this kind of research!

Here are some good sources for news articles related to computers and computer technology. Feel free to use other sources. If you find one of these links is broken, or you know of another good site, please let me know!

Your grade will be based on the overall quality of your sources, your initial analysis of them, and their relevance to you project. Generally you should have a variety

Weekly (or so) News

Once during each week (roughly) we will start class with a news time. You will be responsible for finding a news article related to computer hardware (NOT software) and highlighting the content for the class. You will prepare a written 100-200 word summary of the article and provide this as an oral 30 seconds and 1 minute review for the class. You need to submit a hardcopy which will be posted in or near the Sleight Lab for all to read. The summary will be submitted to me via email or paper copy. The news story must be of current interest, therefore should be no more than one week old for newspaper articles, and no more than one month old for weekly and monthly periodicals. The goals of this exercise include making you aware of current developments in computer hardware, making you familiar with sources for computer news, giving you experience in summarizing articles, and helping you find articles related to your term paper.

You should consider selecting articles related to your term project. This will minimize the overlap with other students and help you complete your term paper bibliography.


You should plan on talking for about ten minutes and allow up to five minutes for questions. I'd prefer to have students ask questions, but I'll ask some questions if nobody else does, so be prepared! You should have between six and ten total slides, depending on their content. Your presentation should roughly follow the same organization of your paper. Prepare handouts for each student.

Your grade will be based on quality of presentation materials, delivery, and presented content.


A written paper is also required. Careful completion of the previous steps will ease your writing task.
  • Structure

  • Your paper must have the following overal structure:
    • Title Page - Title, Name, Course, Date
    • Thesis Statement - ex: A solid state amplifier is possible.
    • Introduction - set up, context, outline
    • Evolutionary History
    • Current State of the Art
    • Major limitations
    • Societal Impacts - ex: Rock Music was made possible by the transistor
    • Where do you you predict the technology will be in 1, 5, and 10 years?
    • Conclusion
    • Bibliography
    • Reference Articles
    In your paper, compare and contrast various strategies found in your sources. Don't just regurgitate what you read in book report fashion, analyze the contents! Take a stand and justify your position through logical argument The strength of your arguments will form the basis of your grade.

    Include any relevant discussion from your presentation in your completed paper. Define all acronyms and buzzwords -- I don't know every YAFA (Yet Another Fine Acronym). Check your paper carefully. This includes page numbering, margins, font usage, typographical errors, and grammatical mistakes. You not only should run a spell checker, but also watch out for homophones witch make know cents and can bee easily mist buy a spell checker (eyecomplement ewe four yore patients). Having someone else read your paper might help eliminate these errors.

  • Mechanics

  • Your paper will include a cover sheet with a title and your name. The body of the paper will be between 1500 and 2500 words (5 to 8 pages) printed with double-spaced 12-point proportionaly spaced type. The main text body should be printed with full justification. Any figures or graphs should be inserted into the body. A bibliography of references, including Web pages, will follow the text body. Your paper will have 1-inch margins and the pages of the text body and bibliography will be numbered starting with the first page of the text body. You should secure the pages of your paper with a staple in the upper left-hand corner, rather than using a report cover. Finally, you need to supply me with copies of your reference materials. I will return these with your graded paper.

  • Resources on Writing
    Consult the following resources for hints and tips on writing.
    • Writing Center: The Writing Center invites students to visit us for feedback on papers, for advice and tips on writing in all your courses, and for guidance on special writing tasks. Appointments and drop-in tutoring available. For more information, contact the Writing Center at x-0828, or stop by 309 Seeley Mudd during their open hours: Monday - Thursday from 1:00 - 4:00 PM, and Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings from 7:00 - 9:00 PM.
    • ACM Crossroads Writers' guide
    • General Writing Resources
    • Writing for Computer Science: the art of effective communication. Justin Zobel. T11.Z62 1998.
    • Bedford Handbook
Your paper will be grade on clarity, quality of presentation, and mechanics.


To summarize, this project is an opportunity explore, better understand, and share with others an interesting aspect of computer hardware technology. In your future as a computer scientist you are likely to need to find information and present it others in a coherent manner.

Copyright © 2017, David A. Reimann. All rights reserved.