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The essentials of Computer Organization and Architecture

The Essentials Of Computer Organization And Architecture

Linda Null ,julia Lobur
Review Of Essential Terms And Concepts



Name and explain the seven commonly accepted layers of the Computer Level Hierarchy. How does this arrangement help us to understand computer systems?


The names of commonly accepted seven layers of the Computer Level Hierarchy are

  • Level 6: User Level
  • Level 5: High-Level Language Level
  • Level 4: Assembly Language Level
  • Level 3: System Software Level
  • Level 2: Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), or Machine Level
  • Level 1: Control Level
  • Level 0: Digital Logic Level


Level 6, the User Level, is composed of applications and is the level with which everyone is most familiar. At this level, we run programs such as word processors, graphics packages, or games. The lower levels are nearly invisible from the User Level.

Level 5, the High-Level Language Level, consists of languages such as C,C++, FORTRAN, Lisp, Pascal, and Prolog. These languages must be translated (using either a compiler or an interpreter) to a language the machine can understand.

Level 4, the Assembly Language Level, encompasses some type of assembly language. Compiled higher-level languages are first translated to assembly, which is then directly translated to machine language. This is a one-to-one translation, meaning that one assembly language instruction is translated to exactly one machine language instruction. By having separate levels, we reduce the semantic gap between a high-level language, such as C++, and the actual machine language (which consists of 0s and 1s).

Level 3, the System Software Level, deals with operating system instructions. This level is responsible for multiprogramming, protecting memory, synchronizing processes, and various other important functions. Often, instructions translated from assembly language to machine language are passed through this level unmodified.

Level 2, the Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), or Machine Level, consists of the machine language recognized by the particular architecture of the computer system. Programs written in a computer’s true machine language on a hardwired computer can be executed directly by the electronic circuits without any interpreters, translators, or compilers.

Level 1, the Control Level, is where a control unit makes sure that instructions are decoded and executed properly and that data is moved where and when it should be. The control unit interprets the machine instructions passed to it, one at a time, from the level above, causing the required actions to take place.

Level 0, the Digital Logic Level, is where we find the physical components of the computer system: the gates and wires. These are the fundamental building blocks, the implementations of the mathematical logic, that are common to all computer systems.

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