Ever crack some device open just to see how it works? The course logo, presented full-size below, is a photo of what you see when you try to break open a modern processor chip and look inside. Doesn't really show you much, does it? That's because, as is normal, the chip is mounted upside down. What's inside is so complex that you wouldn't be able to figure out much from seeing it anyway. In fact, humans don't live long enough for any one person to understand every last detail of the literally billions of transistors that make-up a modern, high-end, processor. Don't worry. EE380 (aka, CS380) will help you to understand how it all works in ways that will allow you to specify, design, and more effectively use these complex systems... without needing to know what each transistor does.
Note that this logo is a good indication of how this course differs with the approach to this material elsewhere. In our course, the goal is not only to give a basic introduction to the concepts using a simplified MIPS architecture, but also to enable students to make intelligent evaluations of state-of-the-art processors without having to understand all the little details inside. In your careers, many of you will never need to design your own processor, but all of you are likely to need to evaluate and specify processors.