Computer Science

Hobart College

Computer Architecture Terms

Explanations of a number of key terms relating to computer architecture and the TOY machine by the students of 2017…

  • Harvard Architecture
    Harvard Architecture is a type of computer architecture that has physical separate storage and signal pathways for instructions and data. It was developed to deal with the problem of limited access to memory by the CPU and the recognition that in general, program and the data were often separate areas of memory. Harvard Architecture differs…
  • RISC architecture
    RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) is an architecture for microprocessors. RISC architectures utilise a small list of highly optimised instructions. The first RISC architectures were designed in the 70s and 80s and IBM, Stanford and UC Berkeley. Using the small number of optimised instructions allows for smaller microprocessors by reducing the amount of physical transistors…
  • Instruction Execution Cycle
    Instruction execution cycle (fetch-execute-decode) is the main method of the operational process of a computer, the process allows the computer to receive a program instruction from its memory, determine what actions the instruction is asking for, then carries out those actions. The instruction execution cycle starts when the computer boots, and ends when the computer…
  • Flip-flops and registers
    Flip-Flops Flip-flops are a type of electronic switch, it stores one bit of binary memory (either on or off).  They can be used for counting pulses. They can stay in a state that they were set in even if the input has changed or been removed. DQ Flip-Flops DQ Flips-flops (or Data Flip-flops) are a…
  • High-level language
    A programming language is a type of language that tells a computer what to do. This is interpreted or compiled into a machine language such 0s and 1s. A great example to this is when your mother tells you to clean up your room, you usually go and do it, this same process happens to…
  • Von Neumann Architecture
    In the early days of computing (i.e. 1940’s) computers were built to complete very specific, set tasks, like cracking secret codes in world war 2. If you wanted to change the task, you would have to manually rewire the entire computer by hand, a very time consuming process. A scientist called Von Neumann had an…
  • Toy Machine: Opcodes
    What is an opcode? An op code, which stands for operation code, is the number interpreted by a machine that represents an operation to be performed and is used to write machine code. This allows technology to do float addition of registers, shifting register values to memory, two’s complement addition to registers, etc. Opcodes also…
  • Machine Code
    Machine code (or language) is a set of instructions that is executed directly by the CPU in binary. Each performs a specific action like add, load and jump on a unit of data in a CPU register or memory. Every program directly executed by a CPU is made up of a series of such instructions.…
  • TOY Machine: Bus
    In computer architecture, a bus is a system of communication that facilitates the transfer of data between components inside a computer, or between computers. TOY Machine architecture contains the three bus types; an address bus, a data bus and a control bus. An address bus is used to read, or write to, a physical address in the…
  • Assembly Language
    An assembly language is the language one step above machine language. Also known as assembly code, it actually refers to a group of low-level languages. Each CPU has its own assembly language, and because of this, it isn’t possible to transfer assembly languages between CPUs. Being very basic, assembly languages usually lack things such as variables…
  • Virtual Machines
    A virtual machine is an emulation of a computer system. Virtual machines are based on computer architectures and provide functionality of a physical computer. Their implementations may involve specialised hardware, software, or a combination. System virtual machines provide a substitute for a real machine. They provide functionality needed to execute entire operating systems. A hypervisor…
  • Von Neumann Bottleneck
    The Von Neumann bottleneck is the restriction of data transfer inside computer architecture. Imagine if all of the country folk had to come in from their towns to a single city on a single 16 lane highway. Eventually when there are enough people coming or going to the city at once there will be a…
  • Toy Machine: Main Memory & Registers
    Toy machine has two types of storage, main memory and registers each of which hold one word of information in each body. There are 16 registers in the TOY machine, labelled by hexadecimal integers, from ‘0’ – ‘F’ which each hold variables represented by 16-bit words. Registers are used during computation while main memory is…

 

 

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