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What is computer Architecture??

             As we all know computers are built of various components called hardware include CPU, memory, busses, clocks, peripherals etc. All of these components must communicate with each other and provide a necessary service to the user. Simply,

Computer architecture deals with how these components interact.

Computer architecture involves instruction set architecture design, micro architecture design and logic design. It refers to those attributes of a system visible to a programmer or those attributes that have a direct impact on the logical execution of the program. It is a plan or design policy. It relatively changes. IT describes the function of various units of digital computer that store and process information.  Many aspects are to be considered which includes instruction set design, functional organisation, logic design and implementation.

Basically the purpose to learn Computer architecture is to understand:

  • How computer work?
  • How these could be designed or built?
  • How efficiently they work?
  • What is the basic principle behind it?

These factors are important to understand if we are dealing with computer based subjects. If we develop software the question there would be how to get the best performance of software so, for that you need to have good understanding of architecture and hardware.

Let's discuss about Von Neumann architecture which is the most popular and oldest architecture which describes the organisation of logical elements.

Processor contains number of registers for temporary storage of data.

805_computer_architecture.jpg

Fig 1: Von Neumann architecture


Fig 1 represents the von Neumann architecture which illustrates the basic architecture of computer system. It contains 5 main units Main memory, ALU, Control unit, input unit and output unit. ALU performs all the calculations and control unit manages the flow of instructions. The memory unit stores the result both temporary and permanent.

158_Main_memory.jpg

                Fig 2: Main memory

MAR: Memory address register

PC: program counter

IR: Instruction register

MDR: Memory destination register

ALU: Arithmetic and logic unit

R0 to Rn-1: Registers

Fig 2 represents memory which consists of registers and sub registers.

IR- Holds the instruction that are currently being executed

PC- It keeps the track of current program in execution. During the execution it updates to address of next instruction to be fetched from memory

 MAR- It holds the address of the location to or from which it to be transferred

MDR- It consists of data to be written into or read out of the address location.

Interrupt: It is a request from an I/O device for service by the processor. The processor provides the required service by executing the appropriate interrupt service routine.

Bus structure: A group of wires that connects several devices.

3 types of buses: Data bus

                            Address bus

                            Control bus

These are little explanation about architecture. However we are building a system to carry out our needs. So performance of system mainly depends on architecture.

Factors affecting Performance are:

  • The way in which compiler translates.
  • Choice of machine language instruction.
  • Design of hardware that constitute the compiler.

Difficulties faced by students while solving computer architecture problems:

There may arise some difficulties regarding computer architecture problems.

  • Though computer uses binary language one should have a good hand on binary number system and other number systems, how numbers and alphabets are stored in computer memory etc.
  • We already came across the memory organisation and we found that it uses some registers for the operations. So we should be familiar with the commands or instructions that we use for transfer and store data to and from address locations.
  • For making instructions for register operations we should first know about the amount of memory each operands take to store in each registers.

Tips to solve these problems

  • The architecture of system should be very much understood by the student so as to solve the related problems.
  • The memory organization should be very much clear so that there will be no confusion regarding the storage of operands and result.
  • The machine level instructions should be known to deal with the operations in registers.
  • The capacity to store results in each register should be clear.

The configuration of bus and clock timing should be understood so that for other problems it will be effective.

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