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Mark Pearl


Organization & Architecture

  • Computer architecture – those attributes of a system visible to a programmer or, put another way, those attributes that have a direct impact on the logical execution of a program.
  • Computer organization – the operational units and their interconnections that realize the architectural specifications

Examples of computer architectural attributes include…

  • Instruction set
  • The number of bits used to represent various data types
  • I/O mechanisms and techniques for addressing memory

Examples of computer organization attributes includes…

  • hardware details transparent to the programmer including controls signals
  • interfaces between the computer and peripherals
  • memory technology used

Computer architecture tends to last decades, while computer organization often operates in a much smaller time frame. For instance, IBM PC architecture has been around for a long time, but the actual organization of the components that make up the architecture is continually changing.

Structure and Function

  • Structure – the way in which the components are interrelated
  • Functions – the operation of each individual components as part of the structure

Both the structure and functioning of a computer are in essence simple.


In general terms there are only four…

  1. Data processing
  2. Data storage
  3. Data movement
  4. Control


There are four main internal structures of the computer….

  1. CPU – Central processing unit which controls the operation of the computer and performs its data processing functions, often simply referred to as processor
  2. Main memory – stores data
  3. I/O – moves data between the computer and  its external environment
  4. System interconnection – some mechanism that provides for communication among CPU, main memory, and I/O (i.e. a system bus)

The CPU is possibly the most interesting of these 4 components, its major structural components are…

  1. Control unit – Controls and operation of the CPU and hence the computer
  2. ALU - Arithmetic and logic unit performs the computer’s data processing functions
  3. Registers – Provides storage internal to the CPU
  4. CPU interconnection – some mechanism that provides for communication among the control unit, ALU, and registers
Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2012 1:37 PM UNISA COS 2621 Computer Organization | Back to top

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