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Computer hardware physics


ECTS Credits : 4

Duration : 36 hours

Semester : S8

Persons in charge :

Guy SCHNEIDER, Associate professor, Hervé RINNERT, Associate professor,

Keywords :


Prerequisites : Statistical physics course, basic knowledge on semiconductors

Goal : Acquire the fundamental knowledge of how computers work

Program and contents :

Educational objective

The aim of this course is to introduce the basic concepts for understanding how a computer works by presenting the properties of the basic components of semi-conductors, technology implementation, as well as the electronics of a microprocessor. The course will answer the question: “What is inside a computer?” through a multidisciplinary approach centered on hardware.

Contents - Program

The principal elements of a computer will be identified through an investigative analysis. Putting the purely IT aspects (languages and software) aside, our studies will concentrate on the micro-programmed layer (features of a microprocessor, microelectronics) and the physical layer (semi-conductor components).
The course will combine a traditional lecture and tutorial structure with presentations, hands-on experience with processing equipment, exposure to analyzing semi-conductors and practical training on computers. These various approaches will then allow the students to be able to reconstruct the principal features of a computer themselves.
The course is divided into two main parts, each presented by one of the two teachers:

  • Part 1: semi-conductors; features of microelectronic components; industrial and
    technological aspects of manufacturing components
  • Part 2: features of a microprocessor. Half of this part is used for fulfilling the necessary
    prerequisite: basics in combinational and sequential logic and study briefs.

The last class is based on the theme: “IT and society”.

The different components of a computer are presented in the students’ presentations.
Part 1 is closely related to the course SM142, but treated in a less specialized manner.

Abilities : 


Description and operational vocabulary













Evaluation :

  • Written test
  • Continuous assessment
  • Oral presentations
  • Project
  • Written report
  • Aucune étiquette