AQA Computer Science GCSE
Computer Systems - Systems Architecture
What goes on inside the box?
I think it helps to get an idea of what's inside a standard computer before we get into the theory and so on.
Ideally you'd take a computer apart to have a look as part of this. Do take care if you do this at home! Ask permission, use an old computer, unplug it and look up what else you need to do to be safe on the internets before you start. You can break things far too easily...
The Motherboard - slides from class
Motherboard basics - notes on the main components on the motherboard
Motherboard Image to label - photo to label
Transistors as switches - slides from class
There's a really interesting article about the supply chain for a Huawei motherboard that you might want to take a look at. It demonstrates the way that the component industry is globalised. (BBC, 21 May 2019)
The von Neumann Architecture and the CPU
The von Neumann architecture describes the basic way in which a general purpose computer is organised. It was first described by John von Neumann in 1945. von Neumann was a really interesting chap. You might want to spend five minutes finding a little bit more out about him: Wikipedia is a good place to start.
Von Neumann Architecture - slides from class
The von Neumann Architecture - notes and activities
As part of his architecture, von Neumann described how the CPU would work.
You need to know about some of the components inside the CPU:
Inside the CPU - slides from class
Inside the CPU - notes on the elements
If you need a diagram of the simplified structure of the CPU you can click on the thumbnail to get a larger version.
For more on how the CPU works to decode and execute instructions, see the Fetch-Execute page.