What Is Computer Architecture And Its Types

Types of Computer Architecture

Computer architecture is a broad term that encompasses the design of the internal structure, components and connections of a computer system. It is the overall structural configuration of a computer and how it works. It is the foundation upon which a computer is designed and developed. Computer architecture can be divided into two types: performance-oriented and capacity-oriented architectures.

Performance-Oriented Architectures

Performance-oriented architectures employ techniques such as pipeline architecture, instruction-level parallelism, vector instruction sets and vector processing. Pipeline architectures utilize multiple pipelines to execute a single instruction, resulting in quicker and more efficient processes. Instruction-level parallelism enables different steps of an instruction to be processed in parallel, and vector instruction sets allow one instruction to be executed many times, improving overall speed. Vector processors excel at vector arithmetic, or the process of processing a large set of numbers quickly.

Capacity-Oriented Architectures

Capacity-oriented architectures have extensions that increase the memory size of a computer processor and enable it to address larger data sets. Examples of capacity-oriented architectures include hierarchical architectures, distributed computing architectures and grid computing architectures. Hierarchical architectures segment a large computing task into smaller, separate tasks, which are distributed across different locations for easier processing. Distributed computing architecture involves the distribution of computing resources across multiple, connected nodes, and grid computing architecture consists of a network of computers that collaborate to solve computationally intensive problems.

Cost-Effective Benefits of Computer Architecture

Computer architectures are designed to be cost-effective and energy-efficient. Leveraging current technologies and materials, computer architectures can be created and modified as economic needs evolve. By reducing energy costs, efficient computer architecture can save companies a considerable amount in the long run. Additionally, computer architectures can be designed and updated to maximize performance and minimize downtime.

Microarchitecture and Its Different Levels

Microarchitecture is a sub-category of computer architecture that consists of the registers, data paths and control unit of the processor. It describes the low-level logic and organization of individual components and how they interact with one another. Microarchitecture can be broken up into three different levels: Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), System Design and Hardware Design.
ISA offers an interface between software and hardware, which facilitates the design of processors and other hardware components. System Design deals with the integration, communication and coordination between the different hardware components and components at the ISA level. Hardware Design describes the lowest level of microarchitecture, where the components are implemented and the behavior of the hardware components is determined.

Operating Systems and Architectures

Operating systems and computer architectures can be closely entwined, as the way a system is designed can affect how the operating system functions. A good example of this is the bundling of certain applications, such as a Web browser, with the operating system. Depending on the processor architecture, some operating systems may require additional hardware and software to be installed in order to run certain applications.

Languages and Computer Architecture

Computer architectures can affect the languages that are used to program computers. Some languages, such as assembly language, are designed to exploit the features of the underlying processor architecture. As new architectures are created and updated, existing languages may need to be updated to be able to take advantage of those features.

Embedded Systems and Fabrication

Embedded systems are computers that are found in devices or systems. They are typically specialized for particular device purposes and cannot be used for general-purpose computing. Such systems need to be built with specialized components and materials, and their computer architectures should be tailored to fit their specific requirements. This often requires detailed fabrication processes and the use of specialized materials in order to produce an architectural system that works as designed.

Impact of Computer Architecture on Performance

No matter what type of architecture is used, its implementation and design can have a significant impact on the performance of the computer. Computers can be programmed for specific tasks and perform faster or slower, depending on the type of architecture used. Additionally, the type of architecture used can affect the power consumption of the system, the amount of data that can be stored, and the speed at which the computer can access data.

Security and Computer Architecture

Security is a key factor when designing an architectural system. Any computer architecture is vulnerable to intrusion, and the types of security measures employed can play a key role in protecting a system. For example, firewalls and authentication protocols can ensure that only authorized users are permitted to access the system. Encryption methods can encrypt data, making it difficult for even authorized users to understand the system architecture.

Cloud Computing and Computer Architecture

Cloud computing is an online computing model where virtual machines are hosted on remote servers. The architecture of the cloud system is responsible for providing the necessary resources to the user and maintaining the security of the data. Cloud computing enables companies to make use of software, hardware and other IT solutions, without needing to manage or maintain their own infrastructure.

Impact of Computer Architecture on the User

Computer architecture has a direct impact on the user experience. For example, an understanding of the architecture of an operating system can assist users in navigating and utilizing the features of their device. A well-designed architecture can aid users in their computing tasks by reducing errors, increasing overall performance and providing a more reliable computing experience.

Assessment and Evaluation of Computer Architecture

The assessment and evaluation of computer architecture is crucial in order to determine whether the system is meeting the requirements of its users. Performance metrics such as accuracy, speed, memory usage and energy usage can be used to assess the overall performance of a computer architecture. Additionally, user feedback can be used to assess whether the system is meeting the needs of its intended users.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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