Computer ArchitectureWhile the term computer architecture may have different meanings depending on one’s perspective, it usually is a description of a computer’s components and how the components integrate and interact to form an efficient system. Although most organizations have greatly benefited from commercial off the shelf computing solutions, there is still a need to apply the principles of systems engineering to many projects facilitated by both private and public business concerns. A significant part of computer system engineering activities is the generation of a computer’s architecture. Here are some specific ways that computer architecture is used within various engineering and information technology related projects, methods for documenting the architecture and how one qualifies to perform as a project’s computer architect.

How Technical Projects Benefit From Computer Architecture

Organizations that initiate new projects that utilize technology to solve business problems typically follow the concepts and methods found within the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Because many times solving a business problem requires more than implementing technical solutions, project teams evaluate business problems to determine the best solution paths. When it is determined that a technical solution is needed, the project team’s system architect determines the best computer system components and configurations to efficiently meet business requirements. Creating a computer system architecture is an important part of the SDLC that results in computer systems that have fewer latency issues, greater throughput and are generally more efficient. The system architect often builds in computer security into the architecture to reduce the potential for cyber crimes or any other unauthorized system infiltrations. A computing solution with a well-defined computer architecture has the potential to offer significant cost and time savings to businesses who utilize the technical product.

Standard Ways For Documenting Computer System Architecture

A well documented computer architecture is important, because it must accurately convey the computer system components, their functions and proposed interactions to all interested stakeholders. This computer architecture document is often used to communicate with the end-user to ensure that the system will satisfy business requirements. An approved architecture is then relayed to technical project team members who design, develop and test the actual computer system that would be delivered as an overall solution to a business problem. The computer system architecture document is a combination of textual and graphical descriptions of the computer’s hardware and software components and their points of integration. A computer system architecture document typically contains an explanation of the scope, a high level overview of the system’s goals and objectives and anticipated constraints. High level system performance and quality requirements are also usually described within the architecture document. Additionally, the document includes graphical descriptions of the architecture from different perspectives or views, according to California State University, Northridge. For example, a pictorial of the computer system’s proposed processes by component is shown in what is classified as the Process View.

Becoming a Computer Architect

The computer system architect role for most projects is a highly regarded and prestigious position. Although the person who fills this role is supported by technically astute team members, it is the computer architect who is ultimately responsible for the technical solution offered to the end-user just as the project manager is ultimately responsible for meeting the business requirement that the technical solution is supposed to support. In order to pull together the most efficient computer architecture, the architect must be aware of the latest technical products and techniques in the ever-changing computer industry. Also, the computer system architect must have a solid working knowledge of the fundamentals of system and software design and development. These individuals often possess advanced degrees in computer science, industry recognized certifications from continuous professional development activities and years of progressively challenging system and software design experience.

Related Resource: Computer Engineering


Computer architecture is the foundation of most technical projects, and it is referred to by all stakeholders throughout the project’s life cycle. Even after technical projects are completed and delivered to end users, the computer architecture documentation is often used as a basis for subsequent system updates.