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Title: VisibleZ: A Mainframe Architecture Emulator for Computing Education
Authors: Woolbright, David
Zanev, Vladimir
Rogers, Neal
Keywords: Mainframe Architecture Emulator
Computer Organization
Assembly Language
Computing Education
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Institute of Mathematics and Informatics Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Citation: Serdica Journal of Computing, Vol. 8, No 4, (2014), 389p-408p
Abstract: This paper describes a PC-based mainframe computer emulator called VisibleZ and its use in teaching mainframe Computer Organization and Assembly Programming classes. VisibleZ models IBM’s z/Architecture and allows direct interpretation of mainframe assembly language object code in a graphical user interface environment that was developed in Java. The VisibleZ emulator acts as an interactive visualization tool to simulate enterprise computer architecture. The provided architectural components include main storage, CPU, registers, Program Status Word (PSW), and I/O Channels. Particular attention is given to providing visual clues to the user by color-coding screen components, machine instruction execution, and animation of the machine architecture components. Students interact with VisibleZ by executing machine instructions in a step-by-step mode, simultaneously observing the contents of memory, registers, and changes in the PSW during the fetch-decode-execute machine instruction cycle. The object-oriented design and implementation of VisibleZ allows students to develop their own instruction semantics by coding Java for existing specific z/Architecture machine instructions or design and implement new machine instructions. The use of VisibleZ in lectures, labs, and assignments is described in the paper and supported by a website that hosts an extensive collection of related materials. VisibleZ has been proven a useful tool in mainframe Assembly Language Programming and Computer Organization classes. Using VisibleZ, students develop a better understanding of mainframe concepts, components, and how the mainframe computer works. ACM Computing Classification System (1998): C.0, K.3.2.
ISSN: 1312-6555
Appears in Collections:Volume 8 Number 4

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