Von Neumann vs Harvard Architecture: Difference and Comparison

The architecture of the computers is required before designing the computer. The design helps to know the negative and positive points of the computers.

The loopholes are also known before and thus the budget of the manufacturer can also be known. Thus, the architecture of microcomputers is of many types and the two of them are Von Neumann and Harvard Architecture.

Key Takeaways

  1. Von Neumann’s architecture uses a single memory to store data and instructions, while Harvard’s architecture employs separate memories.
  2. Harvard architecture allows for faster execution of instructions due to concurrent fetching of data and instructions, whereas Von Neumann architecture can experience bottleneck issues.
  3. Von Neumann’s architecture is simpler and more cost-effective, while Harvard’s architecture is more complex and efficient.

Von Neumann vs Harvard Architecture

The difference between Von Neumann and Harvard Architecture is that they both have different architecture. The Von Neumann CPU has a single memory connection. On the other hand, Harvard Architecture has the RAM and ROM connected differently. The hardware requirement in the Von Neumann is less as compared to the Harvard Architecture. Harvard is faster as compared to the Von Neumann architecture.

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The Von Neumann architecture is also known as Princeton Architecture. The Architecture was first designed in. This is the design for the microcomputer, which is a digital computer.


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The components of this design include the CPU, which consists of the arithmetic and processor unit along with a control unit. It also has storage to store the data and instructions along with additional storage.

Harvard Architecture is the design that got its name from the Harvard Mark. This design is a modern-day design. The design is in contradiction to Ann. The Harvard architecture with a separate unit of ROM and RAM.

This Harvard also needs the hardware in more amount. Yet the processor is required in this design as the computer itself can not initialize any function.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonVon NeumannHarvard Architecture
DefinitionThe Von Neumann is the design of the computers which is simple and uses a single memory connection.The Harvard Architecture is the modern-day design that comes with separate RAM and ROM.
DesignThe design is simple and uses the same path to take instructions and store data.The design is complex as compared to the Von Neumann as it has separate RAM and ROM connections.
HardwareThe hardware requirement is less as compared to Harvard Architecture.Hardware is required more in Harvard Architecture as compared to Von Neumann.
SpeedThe speed of the processors is less as compared to the Harvard Architecture.The Harvard has more speed.
More space is required by the computer designed on Harvard Architecture.
Physical spaceThe physical space is required less by the Von Neumann computers as compared to the Harvard Architecture computers. The physical space is required more in Harvard Arhitecture.
Internal memoryThe Internal Memory is not wasted as the memory and programs share the same space.The Internal Memory of Harvard is wasted somewhere as the instruction memory and data memory can not use the same space.
Running InstructionsThe Running instructions can either be taken from the program stored or instructions given. Thus, both can not be taken together.The running instructions are complex and a bit slow as the input and the program instructions stored in the program are taken simultaneously.

What is Von Neumann Architecture?

The Von Neumann is the computer machine design used in old times. Many simple computers still use the Von Neumann design to manufacture the computers which are used for simplicity or to train others.

The Older version of the program was very bulky, and in case of any bug, the whole system had to be rewired and has to go through the design again. This was very time-consuming and expensive. After some time, the version evolved.

The Von Neumann Architecture is a computer that can not process the stored data and the instruction at the same time. This disadvantage was because the stored data and instruction both have the same path of entering.

This also slows down the speed of the computer is architecture was referred to as many bottlenecks.

The Von Neumann is simple as compared to Harvard Architecture and has only one pathway to fetch the information and instruction within the computer. An example of the Von Neumann Architecture is a desk calculator which is used to do basic mathematics.

What is Harvard Architecture?

The Harvard architecture is the computer that requires two separate RAM and ROM processors. As the RAM and ROM were separate, the need for the hardware also increased in these types of architecture.

The programs are already installed in these systems, and hence when there are taking input from the users. They can access the instructions and input them at the same time. This hampers the speed of the system.

The Harvard Architecture CPU has been developed much time in the last few years. The usage of the main memory needs to be monitored as it affects the performance of the computer.

The higher the main memory used, the higher the speed of the system. The memory can be accessed faster, yet it can be useful for a small amount only because of the signal routing.

The Harvard architecture also stores the frequently used data in the cache.

The architecture has the advantage of storing a cache and is also power friendly. This architecture’s applications show that it is used in Digital Signal Processors. They are used to detect sound waves in audio and video.

Harvard Architecture is also helpful in microcontrollers to process data. The microcontroller has data memory and flash memory.

Main Differences Between Von Neumann and Harvard Architecture

  1. The Von Neumann is a simple design as compared to Harvard Architecture. 
  2. The Von Neumann has the same pathway for instructions and installed programs, while Harvard has separate units for it. 
  3. Von Neumann can either take the instructions from the user or the program, whereas Harvard can take both at the same time. 
  4. The Physical space was required more in Harvard architecture as compared to the Von Neumann. 
  5. The internal memory in Harvard Architecture is wasted as the data memory and program memory are stored differently, while Von Neumann has the same space for both. 
  6. The speed of the Von Neumann is more as compared to the Harvard Neumann.
  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.5555/1059888.1059898
  2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/334/6052/61.abstract

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