Apr 11th 2015

From Nand to Tetris / Part I (Coursera)

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Build a modern computer system, starting from first principles. The course consists of six weekly hands-on projects that take you from constructing elementary logic gates all the way to building a fully functioning general purpose computer. In the process, you will learn -- in the most direct and intimate way -- how computers work, and how they are designed.

This course is a fascinating 7-week voyage of discovery in which you will go all the way from Boolean algebra and elementary logic gates to building a central processing unit, a memory system, and a hardware platform, leading up to a general-purpose computer that can run any program that you fancy. In the process of building this computer you will become familiar with many important hardware abstractions, and you will implement them, hands on. But most of all, you will enjoy the tremendous thrill of building a complex and useful system from the ground up.

You will build all the hardware modules on your home computer, using a Hardware Description Language (HDL), learned in the course, and a hardware simulator, supplied by us. A hardware simulator is a software system that enables building and simulating gates and chips before actually committing them to silicon. This is exactly what hardware engineers do in practice: they build and test computers in simulation, using HDL and hardware simulators.

Suggested Readings:
The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles