eduARM: Web Platform to Support the Teaching and Learning of the ARM Architecture
Maria Inês Alves, António Duarte Araújo and Bruno Lima
Computer architecture is a prevalent topic of study in Informatics and Electrical Engineering courses, though students’ overall grasp of this subject’s concepts is many times hampered, mainly due to the lack of educational tools that can intuitively represent the internal behaviour of a CPU. With the evolution of the ARM architecture and its adoption in higher education institutions, the demand for this sort of tool has increased. Educational tools, specifically developed for the ARMv8 processor, are scarce and inadequate for what is necessary in an academic context. In order to contribute towards solving this problem, eduARM, a practical and interactive web platform that simulates how a ARMv8 CPU functions, was developed and is presented through this paper. Since this tool’s main purpose is to aid computer architecture students, contributing to an improvement in their learning experience, it comprises varied concepts of computer architecture and organization in a simple and intuitive manner, such as the internal structure of a CPU, in both its unicycle and pipelined versions, and the effects of executing a set of instructions. As to better understand its value, the developed tool was then validated through a case study with the participation of computer architecture students.