Basic Working Principle of a Computer

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Basic Working Principle of a Computer
Before going into the details of working principle of a computer, we will analyse how computer works with the   help of a small hypothetical computer.

In this small computer, we do not consider about Input and Output unit. We will consider only CPU and memory module. Assume that somehow we have stored the program and data into main memory. We will see how CPU can perform the job depending on the program stored in main memory.

P.S.  - Our assumption is that students understand common terms like program, CPU, memory etc. without knowing the exact details.

Consider the Arithmatic and Logic Unit (ALU) of Central Processing Unit :

Consider an ALU which can perform four arithmatic operations and four logical operations

To distingish between arithmatic and logical operation, we may use a signal line,

0  -  in that signal, represents an arithmatic operation and
1  -   in that signal, represents a logical operation.

In the similar manner, we need another two signal lines to distinguish between four arithmatic operations.

The different operations and their binary code is as follows:

Consider the part of control unit, its task is to generate the appropriate signal at right moment.

There is an instruction decoder in CPU which decodes this information in such a way that computer can perform the desired task

The simple model for the decoder may be considered that there is three input lines to the decoder and correspondingly it generates eight output lines. Depending on input combination only one of the output signals will be generated and it is used to indicate the corresponding operation of ALU.

In our simple model, we use three storage units in CPU,
Two  --  for storing the operand and
one  --  for storing the results.
These storage units are known as register.

But in computer, we need more storage space for proper functioning of the Computer.

Some of them are inside CPU, which are known as register. Other bigger junk of storage space is known as primary memory or main memory. The CPU can work with the information available in main memory only.

To access the data from memory, we need two special registers one is known as Memory Data Register (MDR)and the second one is Memory Address Register (MAR).

Data and program is stored in main memory. While executing a program, CPU brings instruction and data from main memory, performs the tasks as per the instuction fetch from the memory. After completion of operation, CPU stores the result back into the memory.

In next section, we discus about memory organization for our small machine.

The document Basic Working Principle of a Computer | Computer Architecture & Organisation (CAO) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE) is a part of the Computer Science Engineering (CSE) Course Computer Architecture & Organisation (CAO).
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FAQs on Basic Working Principle of a Computer - Computer Architecture & Organisation (CAO) - Computer Science Engineering (CSE)

 1. What is the basic working principle of a computer?
Ans. The basic working principle of a computer involves three main components: input, processing, and output. The computer receives data and instructions through input devices, processes the data using the CPU (Central Processing Unit), and then produces the results through output devices.
 2. What are the input devices of a computer?
Ans. Input devices are used to enter data and instructions into a computer. Some common input devices include keyboards, mice, touch screens, scanners, and microphones. These devices allow users to interact with the computer and provide the necessary input for processing.
 3. How does the CPU process data in a computer?
Ans. The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is responsible for executing instructions and performing calculations in a computer. It fetches instructions from the computer's memory, decodes them, and then executes them by performing the necessary operations on the data. The CPU consists of an arithmetic logic unit (ALU) for performing calculations and a control unit for coordinating the execution of instructions.
 4. What are the output devices of a computer?
Ans. Output devices are used to display or present the results of data processing. Common output devices include monitors, printers, speakers, and projectors. These devices convert the processed data into a human-readable or perceptible form, making it possible for users to access and interpret the information.
 5. How does a computer store and retrieve data?
Ans. Computers store data in various types of memory, such as RAM (Random Access Memory) and hard drives. RAM is used for temporary storage of data and instructions that the CPU needs to access quickly. Hard drives, on the other hand, provide long-term storage for files and programs. When data is needed, the computer retrieves it from the appropriate memory location and makes it available for processing or output.

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