Computer architecture

Martin McBride, 2017-01-18
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When we talk about architecture, we are usually talking about buildings.

If we talk about the architecture of typical school, we might list the sort of rooms you would expect:

  • classrooms
  • science labs
  • assembly hall
  • gym
  • canteen
  • library etc

We would also think about the floor plan - how they are connected by corridors, where the main entrance and fire exits should be.

This provides us with an overall pattern of how a school is designed. We could compare this with the architecture of, say, a hospital. It would have wards instead of classrooms, operating theatres instead of science labs, etc. But it would still have corridors, fire exits and a canteen.

If we then look at a particular school, we can see how the overall pattern is applied. For example, a small primary school might not have a gym and an assembly hall. It might just have a gym which can be used as a hall.

Computer architecture

Computer architecture has a similar meaning. It covers the essential parts which are in almost all computers, in one form or another.

In this chapter we will only consider the core of the computer - the Central Processing Unit (CPU). Other parts of the computer - such as memory, storage, and networking, have their own chapters.

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