Computer programs are written in a language that humans understand, but what about the computer itself? Every piece of software, and the instructions and data it contains, is made up of 1’s and 0’s, handled by the central processing unit or CPU.
Explore the core of a modern computer - the processor. Learn how the instructions that humans write in computer programs are translated into machine code that the computer can process. Compare the differences between high-level and low-level programming languages, and how these can used in the classroom.
Computer scientists have developed different computer architectures to retrieve and process data at eye watering speeds – using your knowledge of the processor you’ll learn how and why their performance differs, at a level appropriate for students up to GCSE.
Book now and you will be automatically registered for the scheduled sessions for the course. Remote CPD courses have live, facilitator-led sessions and are not available for instant access. Please refer to the schedule of dates published for each course instance.
You’ll need to know about the basic components of a computer system and how they work together. We recommend the course: Computer systems: input, output and storage. If you are entirely new to computer science, we recommend first participating in our one-day course: An introduction to computer systems, networking and security in computer science
Do you prefer to learn in a classroom?
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Who is it for?
This course is for current or prospective teachers of computer science with some understanding of computer science fundamentals.
- 01 | Program and instruction sets - learn how low and high level languages are used by computers and humans. Explore the characteristics of translators including assemblers, compilers and interpreters.
- 02 | Little Man Computer & Assembly Language - explore how assembly language is used by the program Little Man Computer.
- 03 | Inside the CPU - understanding the role of the CPU is key to knowing how a computer functions. In this session, you’ll explore the different components found inside the CPU and how they feature in the fetch, decode, execute cycle.
- 04 | Cache Memory - explore how the computer uses cache memory and why it’s such a useful type of memory.
- 05 | CPU Performance - The CPU plays a key part of the performance of a computer. Get to grips exploring how the cache size, clock speed and amount of cores can impact the performance of a CPU. You’ll also learn about embedded computer systems.
How long is this course?
This course is approximately five hours in duration, split across several days.
This course is delivered as part of the National Centre for Computing Education.
How will you learn?
Scheduled live, interactive online sessions led by an experienced practitioner.
Flexible facilitator-supported, participant-led tasks, involving deep exploration of the subject content.
- Recognise that all computer instructions are executed in binary – and the different processes used to translate programming languages into computer-readable machine code
- Recognise the Von Neumann architecture, and different instruction sets including RISC and CISC
- Understand the fetch-decode-execute cycle in a computer processor, and the role of each CPU component
- Write simple programs in low-level assembler language
- Know the factors that can affect CPU performance