Top 25 Computer Architecture Interview Questions and Answers in 2022

Computer architecture has, in recent years, gained tremendous importance in this digital era, where the implementation, functionality, and organization of computer systems comprehensively explains using relevant rules and methodologies. Computer architecture is considered one of the primary units that learners must grasp in computer engineering.

If you desire to work in the world of computer architecture, you must be well-versed in computer architecture interview questions. Though these questions vary depending on job profiles, having a wide range of knowledge of the subject will be beneficial during the interview process.

Below is a sample of computer architecture interview questions you can study in preparation for your upcoming interview.

1. What’s Your Understanding Of Computer Architecture? 

Computer architecture refers to rules that depict computer systems’ functionality, programming, organization, and operation. It comprises instructions, methods, and actions that describe the execution and functionality of a computer system. Generally, computer architecture refers to the design of a computer system using compatible technologies.

2. Which Types Of Computer Architecture Are You Familiar With? 

There are several categories of computer architecture, and they include:

Micro Architecture consists of an in-built processor and is the structural design of a microprocessor. The microprocessor consists of electronic elements and data pathways that allow for the optimal completion of instructions.

Von-Neumann Architecture is what constitutes the foundation of modern computing.

Instruction Set Architecture consists of two instruction sets, Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) and Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC). The Instruction Set Architecture processor renders and summarizes a collection of instructions.

System Design cab serves computer modules, system architecture, and data management within a system.

Harvard Architecture requires a separate memory block for instructions and data and consists of a code and data laid in distinct memory sections.  

3. Which Microprocessor Components Do You Know Of? 

I am familiar with microprocessor components, including arithmetic and logic units, which perform math calculations such as additions, subtractions, division, and Boolean functions. It also registers momentary data storage for the microprocessor. The memory caches save the CPU from having to depend on the RAM to retrieve data, as the RAM is much slower. This process helps accelerate the computer process. Still, it has a control unit that receives signals from the CPU and transfers data from one microprocessor to another.

4. What Does Cache Mean?

A cache is a tiny amount of memory that temporarily holds data and instructions that the computer will likely reuse. It forms a part of the central processing unit that appears close to the CPU than the RAM. A cache is storage for hiding and preserving temporary files using hardware and software.  

5. What Does Cache Coherence Mean? 

Cache coherence refers to the regularity of data stored in cache memory. To maintain cache and memory consistency, the multiprocessor systems and Distributed Shared Memory (DSM) are helpful to ensure success. Cache helps store data to avoid loss.

There are different methodologies to maintain cache coherency, such as snooping, snarfing, or director-based coherence. A DSM utilizes a coherency protocol by imitating these techniques to maintain consistency. Cache coherency relies on transaction serialization and propagation. The write propagations change the cache to the data and disseminate it to other copies of the cache line in the peer caches. Likewise, transaction serialization ensures that each processor sees everything written or read by a single memory location in the same sequence.

6. What Is A Cache Miss?

A failure to read or write a fragment of information in the cache resulting in longer latency in the main memory is known as a cache miss. The three types of cache miss are:

Compulsory/cold miss stems from an empty cache or a memory block.

Conflict miss occurs when a single location receives two blocks but lacks space to accommodate both of them. A capacity miss occurs when the cache lacks the space to hold all the blocks you’d like to use.

7. How Many Computer Architecture Categories Are There? Explain That Familiar To You. 

There are three segments of computer architecture, and they include:

Microarchitecture or computer organization defines data processing, paths, and storage elements. It also illustrates how the ISA must implement these elements.

System design comprises data paths, virtualization, memory controllers, and multiprocessing. It also includes hardware components within the system, such as direct memory access, data processors, and a graphics processing unit.

Instruction Set Architecture is a CPU component that defines the CPU’s functions based on the programming it can process. It comprises word size, instructions a programmer uses, data formats, memory addressing modes, and processor register types.

8. What Does Mesi In Computer Architecture Mean? 

MESI, also known as Illinois protocol, defines the four states of cache blocks, which are Modified, Exclusive, Shared, and Invalid. MESI is critical in supporting the write-back cache and is used to provide coherency in the hierarchical memory system.

9. Explain The Methods Of Establishing Hardware Priority 

The two ways of establishing hardware priority include the following:

The parallel priority which comes with a mask register that controls the status of each interrupt request. It also uses a record to configure bits separately by an interrupt signal from each device.   Daisy chaining which connects all devices able to request an interrupt serially.

10. What’s Your Understanding Of The Term Pipelining? 

Pipeline processing or pipelining is the practice of gathering commands from the processor through a pipeline. It stores these instructions systematically, allowing the computer to begin another order before completing the previous one. Pipelining engages all components of the processor and increases the processor’s performance at any given time.

11. How Many Stages Of The Dlx Pipeline Are There, And What Are They? 

DLX is a risk processor architecture designed by David Patterson and John Hennessy and has five stages that include:

  • Type and size of operation
  • Operation
  • Location
  • CPU operation and storage
  • Explicit operands

12. Name And Describe The Different Hazards You Know

There are three classes of hazards including:

Data hazards which result when instructions that manifest data reliance change the data in different phases of the channel. Control hazard which manifests from the pipelining of branches and other commands that modify the computer. Structural hazards result from resource conflicts whereby the hardware fails to support all manner of instructions in a harmonized overlapped implementation.

13. What Does Snooping Protocol Mean?

Snooping Protocol or bus snooping protocol supports coherency in symmetric multiprocessing systems. Every cache on the bus stop helps determine whether they have the relevant copy of the data block. You can easily read several copies in the multiprocessing environment without coherence challenges. For a processor to write on the bus, it needs exclusive access to the bus to execute the process.  

14. What’s Your Understanding Of Virtual Memory? 

Usually, a computer uses memory to load the operating system and run programs which sometimes causes the device to run out of memory, especially if you are operating too many programs simultaneously. At this point, virtual memory is handy as it increases your computer’s memory by enlarging the address space where you can store data. It utilizes the hard disk space for apportioning additional memory. Virtual memory enables the computer to run multiple programs.

15. How Do You Identify A Block In A Cache? 

You can identify a place in the index of the block address or check if a valid bit is set for each site and compare the tag with that address block corresponding to each place within the set. The blog tag is documented by each location in the cache, along with its records. The area in the cache may be empty and maintains a valid bit.

16. Distinguish Software And Hardware Interrupts. 

A computer is subdivided into two categories: hardware and software. Hardware refers to the physical components of the computer system like monitors, mice, CPU, or keyboard. In contrast, software refers to instructions that aid the hardware in performing specific tasks. Other differences between hardware and software are as follows:

Software interrupts Hardware interrupts
It is synchronousIt is asynchronous
It contains the highest priorityIt has the lowest priority
It uses INT instructionIt occurs due to external devices like hardware failure
Occurs due to conditions in the processor or from special instructions in the setIt occurs from outside interference such as users, networks, users, or other hardware devices.
The PC is incrementedThe PC isn’t incremented
It is the interrupt generated by an internal system of a computerIs an interrupt generated from an external device.

17. Which Technologies Are You, Comfortable Working, With? 

I have been in this field for the last ten years and have vast experience working with numerous technologies in many different environments. I am familiar with technology and can use multiple systems and software programs. In my last job, I maintained systems and implemented software programs. I was also responsible for maintaining hard and software and all company servers. The responsibility required me to utilize various operating systems, including Linux and Windows, besides programming languages like C++, Python, and Java.

18. Share Your Experiences Working On Past Projects In Computer Architecture. 

I have had the privilege of working on multiple large-scale projects for my previous organization. One of the assignments was to install a new database system for the company website. It was a new startup, so we had to create it from scratch. Immediately after graduation, I worked for an organization where I would devise efficient ways of storing data within the company servers. This experience gave me immense work-related experience that allows me to handle different options for storing data on the cloud.

19. Do You Have Any Practical Experience In Handling Cloud Computing? 

Immediately after graduation, I got a job and I started by learning about different types of clouds and how to differentiate them. Once I gained enough knowledge, I started experimenting with cloud options. From my findings, I’ve learned that public clouds work better for many projects as they are cost-effective and easier to scale. But, private clouds are more secure depending on the project’s requirements.

20. What Procedure Would You Use To Design A Computer System For A Startup?

In one of my previous job engagements, my assignment was to design computer systems for businesses. Before starting, I would ask clients about their requirements and preferences and discuss the possibilities and adjustments needed to realize their objectives. For instance, one entrepreneur wanted a system that would support multiple users. After determining what was required, I created a strategy for how to build that system. I then presented my thoughts to that entrepreneur for approval. I’ve also worked with a client who only needed an application for bookkeeping purposes.

21. Share A Situation Where You Had To Troubleshoot A Problem. 

In one of my roles, I had to work on a project where I was to develop a system that would allow users to access similar information from different computers—teams in other departments needed to gain data access from any location. That system was to also help diverse groups access and simultaneously collaborate on tasks. After creating and testing this system, I found that it posed some challenges when trying to access information from multiple computers.

I collaborated with my team to try and pinpoint the issue and find a lasting solution. We decided to enhance the security features, which gave all relevant employees remote access to the system.

22. What Would You Do If You Discovered You Must Utilize Alien Technology To Complete A Project? 

First, I would ask my mentors if they have the prior similar technological experience. If they are familiar with it, I will request their involvement in completing the project. However, if no one else knows about it, I would research to find an expert who can offer me the help I need. If that is still not possible, I would research online and look for resources and tutorials that can help me get the information I need.

23. How Do You Enhance Communication With Other Professionals Like Software Developers Or Computer Analysts? 

While working on a new project, there’s a need to engage computer analysts, developers, and software analysts to create the technical foundation for new software development projects. To ensure the success of any project, consult and exchange ideas and experiences. We professionals must ask questions, test processes, and integrate new technology into existing systems.

In such instances, I would incorporate a project management tool that can allow us to collaborate on projects from remote locations. I would also clearly explain concepts to my team, making sure that everyone grasps what the project is all about. I also allow my team to ask questions and share views to improve productivity and efficiency. Sharing updates helps eliminate confusion and misunderstanding and keeps the project on the right track. Collaboration among team members ensures we meet project deadlines.

24. One Of Our Objectives Is To Improve Our Computer System’s Security Features. What Security Measures Would You Recommend We Use? 

First, I would recommend a robust antivirus and antispyware to protect the system from infiltration by malware by examining patterns in the files or memory of the computer. Frequently checking, downloading, and installing current security applications for windows or Microsoft Office the moment you connect to the internet is critical. Systems with the latest updates are far less vulnerable to security attacks.

I endorse using a layered tactic for security which involves employing multiple means of protection at different levels. I would also recommend using a firewall to deter external threats like malware and antivirus to prevent virus intrusion into the system.

Finally, I encourage all stakeholders to integrate good password management practices by using a password manager to maintain strong, unique passwords. Too many passwords can tempt anyone to create shortcuts like reusing the same, easy-to-remember password. A password manager plays a crucial role in building solid passwords, entering credentials automatically, and periodically reminding users to update their passwords.  

25. What Approach Do You Integrate When Testing A New System Before Deploying It? 

I begin by outlining a test plan to describe my desired outcome and what I hope to test. Then I create a conducive environment to support my project. I ensure that I’m able to run tests without interfering with workflows. I always pay attention and document my findings while comparing them with my expected outcome. If the tests are successful, I present my findings to my team for review and implementation. But, if the tests aren’t successful, I rerun them severally, trying to make the necessary adjustments until I find a workable solution.  

Conclusion 

Most of the computer architect interview questions are more technical and need adequate preparation if you are to manage to answer all the questions. Being prepared with relevant responses will increase your chances of being shortlisted to advance to the next stage or even getting the job straight away. Your knowledge of the subject will boost your confidence and enable you to impress your interviewer with exact responses that express your understanding of the job profile.