Advanced computer architecture concepts can be extremely difficult to grasp for computer science students. At least, that was my experience back when I was an undergraduate student at university. There are certainly wonderful resources like the legendary Hennessy and Patterson books and, of course, Wikipedia. But these mostly provide prose descriptions of complex algorithms and concepts that I often found difficult to follow. So I would have to pour over the explanations for hours with pen and paper in an attempt to visualize what was happenning inside the processor.

My undergraduate years are long past, but I still decided to try to address the visualization problem. Therefore, I put together a processor simulator that I call Tiny Simulator. It runs on a web browser and provides a graphical interface along with simple controls to visualize the flow of data through the processor’s pipeline as instructions are executed. Tiny Simulator demonstrates computer architecture concepts like reservation stations, register renaming, branch prediction, etc.

The simulated processor implements a simple, made up Instruction Set Architecture with enough instructions to write basic programs. In fact, a handful of programs, like bubblesort and factorial, are provided as demonstrators. The idea is to keep it simple enough that anyone familiar with basic computer architecture can easily pick it up and learn about more advanced techniques.

As always, please let me know if you find Tiny Simulator useful, have a question or find an issue!