The computer architect profession has gained tremendous importance in this digital world. A professional computer architect is responsible for designing and implementing computer systems using relevant methodologies and rules. Computer architects optimize performance by designing the hardware and software components. They enhance and update the system’s overall performance and efficiency. They collaborate with other team members, engineers, and designers to improve the computer system’s performance.
You might be looking for a job if you’re certified in computer engineering. To increase your chances of getting hired, practicing for an interview is an important step in the job-seeking process. It would be best if you were well-versed in computer architecture interview questions that are mostly technical. This article, Top 25 Computer Architecture Interview Questions and Answers in 2023, will help you to perform at your best. This article will surely increase your chances of landing the job as it covers all organizational and skill-based questions and answers.
1. Explain What Computer Architecture Is?
Computer architects have the expertise and knowledge of computer software and hardware structure that improves the performance of computer systems. They design and develop the overall architecture of computer systems. They work on configuration, overall organization, and communication between components such as processors, storage, I/O devices, and memory hierarchy. Furthermore, the architect is also responsible for supervising the design implementation and testing of the system to ensure it meets the desired specifications.
2. Tell About Von Neumann Architecture?
The Von Neumann architecture is a design model for computer systems. It includes a central processing and memory unit, with the CPU able to read and write data to the memory. The Von Neumann architecture contains a single, shared memory for programs and data, a single bus for memory access, an arithmetic unit, and a program control unit. John von Neumann planned this architecture in 1945 based on the idea of a stored program. The storage of instructions and data are stored in the same memory. The Von Neumann processor operates fetching and execution cycles seriously.
3. How Is Computer Architecture Characterized?
Computer architecture can be characterized in many ways, including classifying it by the number of processors, the level of parallelism, the memory hierarchy, and the instruction set. Here computer architecture is characterized into three groups;
- System Design: This category consists of all the hardware parts in the system. It deals with the overall organization of the computer system and the interconnection of its components. It includes a data processor, bus design, and interface that connects these parts aside from the CPU, like direct memory access and graphic processing unit.
- Microarchitecture: It explains the data path, storage element, and data processing. It defines the implementation of the ISA in a specific processor design. It includes the organization of the processor’s components, such as the number of execution units, the interconnection of the units, and the pipeline stages.
- Instruction Set Architecture (ISA): It is the implanted programming language of the CPU. This category deals with the interface between the computer’s software and its hardware. It determines the CPU’s functions and capabilities built on the programming it can process.
4. State Some Important Steps For Computer Design?
A CPU architecture is defined by a set of machine languages which includes
- Set of registers and their purposes
- Regulate signals that start the structure
- A sequence of micro-operations performed on the data stored in registers
5. Explain, What Is A Pipelining?
Pipelining is a method used in computer architecture that enhances the processor’s performance. It works by allowing multiple instructions to be in different stages of execution at the same time. That allowed for greater parallelism and increased instruction throughput. The pipeline is a “logical pipeline” that permits the processor to perform instructions in multiple steps. The processing happens in a consistent, orderly, somewhat overlapped manner, thus increasing the overall speed of instruction execution.
6. Indicate What Are The Various Types Of Fields Part Of An Instruction Format?
In computer architecture, the instruction format is the way instructions are programmed in machine code. However, the types of fields that are part of instruction can differ depending on the computer’s instruction set architecture. Of the various types of fields that are parts of instruction and few of them include
- Operation Code Field: This field is essential to regulate the operation to be performed for the instruction, such as loading data from memory.
- Address Field: This field determines various addresses by specifying memory locations such as memory address and register address.
- Function code: This field is used to specify different operations grounded on the function code of the instruction
- Mode Field: This field determines and specifies data on how the operand is to perform or how effective address is derived.
7. What Is A Cache? Explain What Snooping Cache Is.
A cache is a hardware or software fast memory that stores recently accessed data in computing. Caches speed up access data by reducing the times the main memory must be accessed. At the same time, the snooping cache is the procedure where individual caches monitor address lines for accesses to locate locations they have cached.
8. Mention Some Of The Types Of Micro-Operations?
Some of the types of micro-operations are
- Register transfer micro-operations: These are used to transfer information or data from memory to a register.
- Shift micro-operation: Such operations are used to perform shift operations in a data store in registers
- Logic micro-operation: These are used to perform logical operations such as NOT, AND, XOR and OR.
- Control operations: These operations control the flow of execution in a program, such as branching and leaping to various parts of the program.
- Arithmetic micro-operations: These micro-operations are used to execute some arithmetic operations on numeric data such as addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication stored in the registers.
9. In A Microprocessor System, What Are The Types Of Interrupts? Explain?
During the execution of an instruction, many types of interrupts can cause a break.
External Interrupts External devices, such as a keyboard or a mouse, cause interruptions.
Internal Interrupts: These interruptions are caused by the microprocessor program itself, such as a timer, invalid opcode, or software interrupt instruction.
Spurious Interrupts: There is no role of an external device in this interruption. They are caused by internal errors or by noise on the data lines.
Maskable interrupts: These interrupts can be disabled by the software, permitting the microprocessor to ignore them temporarily.
10. List The Components That Make Up A Microprocessor And Tell Their Functions Briefly.
The common components of a microprocessor include:
- Arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU) that performs mathematical and logical operations.
- Control Unit that controls the flow of data and instructions in the microprocessor.
- The instruction decoder decodes the instruction got from memory to execute them.
- Registers storage locations in the microprocessor that contain data and instructions briefly.
- Bus Interface Unit controls the interface between the microprocessor and the memory and input/output devices.
- Cache memory is used to store frequently retrieved data and instructions.
11. What Is Virtual Memory? Explain Its Concept.
Virtual memory is a common memory management method used in computer operating systems. It uses both hardware and software. It permits the computer to use more memory than is physically available by temporarily transferring data from RAM to the storage disk. Virtual memory also allows for memory protection, as it divides the memory space of different programs. It ensures that one program cannot access or corrupt another program’s memory. It helps to improve the overall system performance.
12. What Is An Instruction Set Architecture (ISA)?
ISA stands for “Instruction Set Architecture.” It is the line between the computer’s software and its hardware. The fragment of a computer’s architecture defines the instructions the computer can execute and the format for those data or instructions. The ISA defines the instruction set that the computer’s hardware can execute and the memory model, which outlines how the computer’s memory is organized and retrieved.
13. What is MESI In Computer Architect?
MESI is a practice used in computer architecture to achieve cache coherence in a system. The MESI protocol ensures that data is not missing or replicated when modified by one processor and accessed by another. The MESI protocol combines cache snooping and bus-based protocols to keep cache coherence. As the name indicates, there are four types of the MESI protocol are:
Modified (M): It is a cache line in the Modified state that a processor modifies, and the modifications have not been written back to the memory.
Exclusive (E): An Exclusive cache line state when is only present in a single processor’s cache, and there is an updated main memory with the cache.
Shared (S): A shared cache line is detained in the cache of multiple processors and is with updated main memory.
Invalid (I): A cache line is in the Invalid condition when it is not contained in any cache and has the updated main memory.
14. What Are The Hazards In Computer Architecture?
In computer architecture, hazards are related to situations when a pipeline’s normal flow of instructions is discontinued. It may happen due to conflicts between instructions. There are many types of hazards, such as structural (Read after Write) RAW, Write after Write (WAW), Write after Read (WAR), data, and control hazards that can occur. Many practices, such as instruction forwarding, reordering, and pipelining, are used to avoid hazards. These are helpful to ensure that instructions are executed in the correct order, and that data dependencies are not violated.
15. Can You Tell The Difference Between RISC And CISE Architectures?
RISC means Reduced Instruction Set Computer, and CISC means Complex Instruction Set Computer. These are two different types of instructional sets of architectures.
- RISC architectures use a smaller set of simple instructions that can be implemented rapidly. In contrast, CISC architectures use a larger set of complex instructions.
- RISC architectures mainly have a higher clock speed and a simpler architecture and thus implement instructions faster than CISC.
- RISC architectures are acknowledged for their simplicity and effectiveness, while CISC architectures are recognized for their increased instruction set and flexibility.
16. What Is A Memory Hierarchy?
A memory hierarchy is a storage system that organizes and structures computer memory. It is helpful to access the data easily and efficiently. It includes multiple capacities and speeds, so some data is better suited to certain memories. The memory hierarchy includes registers, cache, main, and disk storage. It effectively keeps the most frequently-used data in the most easily-accessible memory and stores less frequently-used data in slower, larger-capacity memory.
17. Explain If The Internal Bus Connects Only Register Within The CPU, How Would You Get Data To And From Memory?
The AR or Address Register is used to select a memory address, and the Data Register is used to send and receive the data. Both these registers are connected to the internal BUS, and the Data Register acts as a bridge between the memory data BUS and the internal BUS. So first, I load AR with the desired memory address and then transfer it to or from Data Register.
18. Explain what WAIT State is?
A WAIT state or hold state plays a key role in preventing CPU speed incompatibilities. The processor is often waiting to accept data, but there might be no input available. The processor does not execute instructions and cannot perform tasks. However, it consumes power. The system designers work on it to improve the overall performance. They design efficient algorithms and optimize the overall performance.
19. Describe A Time When You Had To Explain A Technical Concept To A Non-Technical Team Member Or Client. How Did You Tackle This Situation?
Once I had to explain a technical concept to a non-technical team member. I opt for breaking down the concept into simpler and smaller parts. To explain the concepts and gain a clear understanding, I used visual aids such as flowcharts or diagrams. Moreover, I used simple terms and clear language to explain the technical concepts to the non-technical person. By tailoring the explanation, my teammate understood the concept thoroughly.
20. What Methods Do You Use To Ensure The Computer System Is Designed And Implemented Correctly? What Are Some Ways You Communicate With Other Teams, Like Software Developers And System Administrators?
As a computer architecture, I communicate and collaborate with other team members. By holding regular meetings, I share information and discuss the progress that the system is designed correctly. I ensure that they understand the overall vision and goals of the project. Moreover, I work closely with software developers and system administrators to meet the requirement and proper implementation.
21. In A Computer System, How Do You Arrange And Manage Challenging Demands?
First of all, I identify the critical workloads and accomplish them as a priority. I communicate and coordinate effectively to keep an eye on all the projects. I prefer to set a time to meet the deadlines and stay in touch, so everything goes smoothly and accurately. I effectively manage the demands using automated monitoring and alerting tools and regularly reviewing performance metrics.
22. Are You Up-To-Date On New Developments In Computer Architecture And Technology?
Being a computer architecture, I keep myself updated by attending conferences, technology-related events, and workshops. I take computer architecture and technology courses for further development and advancement whenever I have extra time. Moreover, I read magazines, technology news, blogs, and journals to keep myself updated with the latest trends.
23. In Your Role As A Computer Architect, How Do You Prioritize Multiple Projects?
By creating a project plan and prioritizing the different tasks, I have the expertise to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. To handle and complete multiple tasks, I use task-tracking software. I continuously communicate progress on each project with all team members and managers, which helps to handle all tasks effectively.
24. Are You Able To Handle Stress And Maintain A Positive Attitude?
Sometimes the job is too demanding and challenging. I exercise regularly and practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. Whenever needed, I prefer to take breaks and relax to recharge. I focus on my responsibilities by keeping a positive attitude rather than engaging myself in unnecessary tasks.
25. How Do You Handle Criticism And Feedback As A Computer Architect?
As a computer architect, I acknowledge that being open to feedback and criticism is crucial. By using the relevant information, I improve the design and performance of computer systems accordingly. With a constructive mindset, I took criticism positively as it regularly helped evaluate the system’s performance. After that, I make adjustments as necessary.
Practicing for an interview is important for several reasons, as it builds confidence and prepares you for expected and unexpected questions. Most computer architect interview questions are more technical and need adequate preparation. You prepare to refine the responses more emphatically, increasing your chances of being short-listed and moving to the next stage. Through anticipation, you might shape the answer to how to respond best. The above Top 25 Computer Architecture Interview Questions and Answers in 2023 are tailored to help you to get your dream job.