Harvard Architecture

What Does Harvard Architecture Mean?

The Harvard architecture is a term for a computer system that contains two separate areas for commands or instructions and data. In the Harvard architecture, the media, format and nature of the two different parts of the system may be different, as the two systems are represented by two separate structures.


Techopedia Explains Harvard Architecture

Some examples of Harvard architectures involve early computer systems where programming input could be in one media, for example, punch cards, and stored data could be in another media, for example, on tape. More modern computers may have modern CPU processes for both systems, but separate them in a hardware design.

The Harvard architecture, with its strict separation of code and data processes, can be contrasted with a modified Harvard architecture, which may combine some features of code and data systems while preserving separation in others. One example is the use of two caches, with one common address space. It can also be contrasted with a von Neumann architecture, named for John von Neumann, which does not focus on separating input from data.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.