computer architecture

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computer architecture

[kəm′pyüd·ər ′är·kə‚tek·chər]
(computer science)
The art and science of assembling logical elements to form a computing device.

computer architecture

The design of a computer system. It sets the standard for all devices that connect to it and all the software that runs on it. It is based on the type of programs that will run (business, scientific) and the number of programs that run concurrently.

Space and Time
All components in a computer are based on space (how much) and time (how fast). One example is the amount of memory a computer can access and how fast it can access it. Another is the width of the channels (16-bit, 32-bit, etc.) between the CPU and memory and between the CPU and peripheral devices and how fast they transfer data.

The way a computer's instructions are designed is a fundamental architectural component. The trend toward large, complicated instruction sets was reversed with RISC computers, which use simpler instructions. The result is a leaner, faster computer, but requires that the compilers generate more code for complex functions that used to be handled in hardware. Both CISC and RISC architectures are widely used. See RISC.

Special Purposes
Computers designed for single purposes, such as vector processors and database machines, require special architectures. In addition, computers designed from the ground up for fault tolerance also require unique designs.
References in periodicals archive ?
The thinking in academia is still heavily influenced by this early history and has led to the development of research areas that may not be the most relevant point of departure for future work in computer architecture.
An October 2005 symposium gathered users, developers, and researchers from academic, industrial, and government R&D institutions to discuss progress in computer architecture and parallel and distributed high- performance computing.
International Workshop on Computer Architecture for Machine Perception (7th: 2005: Palermo, Italy)
Compare that with the current trend in high performance computing: cluster computers based on personal computer architectures, commodity microprocessors, Gigabit Ethernet and standard networked storage architectures.
Then, 100 years from now, people using different computer architectures would only have one hurdle to leap to read old formats on new machines--writing a set of instructions so the universal computer could be emulated on whatever machines exist then.
The Yankee Group's just-released report, Emerging Computer Architectures, examines the development of new hardware architectures and their likely impact on manufacturing computing.

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