Sunday, November 4, 2007

von Neumann architecture and Harvard architecture

The von Neumann architecture is a computer design model that uses a processing unit and a single separate storage structure to hold both instructions and data. It is named after mathematician and early computer scientist John von Neumann. Such a computer implements a universal Turing machine, and the common "referential model" of specifying sequential architectures, in contrast with parallel architectures. The term "stored-program computer" is generally used to mean a computer of this design, although as modern computers are usually of this type, the term has fallen into disuse.

Harvard architecture is a computer architecture with physically separate storage and signal pathways for instructions and data. The term originated from the Harvard Mark I relay-based computer, which stored instructions on punched tape (24 bits wide) and data in electro-mechanical counters (23 digits wide). These early machines had limited data storage, entirely contained within the data processing unit, and provided no access to the instruction storage as data, making loading and modifying programs an entirely offline process.

The following link also provides some insight into the topic especially wrt ARM cores