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One more component is needed. An input device will bring instructions and data in sequentially, but a program is not invariably executed sequentially: it may jump around. Similarly, operations on data may require access to more than just one element at a lime in a predetermined sequence. Thus, There must be a place to store temporarily both instructions and data. That module is called memory, or main memory to distinguish it from external storage or peripheral devices. Von Neumann pointed out that the same memory could be used to store both instructions and data.

Figure 2 illustrates these top-level components and suggests the interactions among them. The CPU exchanges data with memory. For this purpose, it typically makes use of two internal (to the CPU) registers: a memory address register (MAR), which specifies the address in memory for the next read or write, and a memory buffer register (MBR), which contains the data to be written into memory or receives the data read from memory. Similarly, an I/O address register (I/OAR) specifies a particular I/O device. An I/O buffer register (I/OBR) is used for the exchange of data between an I/O module and the CPU.

A memory module consists of a set of locations, defined by sequentially num­bered addresses. Each location contains a binary number that can be interpreted as either an instruction or data. An I/O module transfers data from external devices to CPU and memory, and vice versa. It contains internal buffers for temporarily hold­ing these data until they can be sent on.

Having looked briefly al these major components, we now turn to an overview of how these components function together to execute programs.

Figure 2 Computer components: Top-level view

2. computer function

The basic function performed by a computer is execution of a program, which con­sists of a set of instructions stored in memory. The processor does the actual work by executing instructions specified in the program. In its simplest form, instruction processing consists of two steps: The processor reads (fetches) instructions from memory one at a time and executes each instruction. Program execution consists of repeating the process of instruction fetch and instruction execution. The Instruction execution may involve several operations and depends on the nature of the instruc­tion.

The processing required for a single instruction is called an instruction cycle. Using the simplified two-step description given previously, the instruction cycle is depicted in Figure 3

Figure 3: Basic instruction cycle

The two steps are referred to as the fetch cycle and the execute cycle. Program execution halts only if the machine is turned off, some sort of unrecoverable error occurs, or a program instruction that halts the computer is encountered.

2.1 instruction fetch and execute

Fetch cycle:

  • Program Counter (PC) holds address of next instruction to fetch
  • Processor fetches instruction from memory location pointed to by PC
  • Increment PC (Unless told otherwise)
  • Instruction loaded into Instruction Register (IR)
  • Processor interprets instruction and performs required actions

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Computer architecture. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10761/1.1
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