Browse Definitions:
Definition

von Neumann bottleneck

The von Neumann bottleneck is a limitation on throughput caused by the standard personal computer architecture.

The term is named for John von Neumann, who developed the theory behind the architecture of modern computers. Earlier computers were fed programs and data for processing while they were running. Von Neumann came up with the idea behind the stored program computer, our standard model, which is also known as the von Neumann architecture. In the von Neumann architecture, programs and data are held in memory; the processor and memory are separate and data moves between the two. In that configuration, latency is unavoidable.

Furthermore, in recent years, processor speeds have increased significantly. Memory improvements, on the other hand, have mostly been in density – the ability to store more data in less space – rather than transfer rates. As speeds have increased, the processor has spent an increasing amount of time idle, waiting for data to be fetched from memory. No matter how fast a given processor can work, in effect it is limited to the rate of transfer allowed by the bottleneck. Often, a faster processor just means that it will spend more time idle.

The von Neumann bottleneck has often been considered a problem that can only be overcome through significant changes to computer or processor architectures.

Approaches to overcoming the von Neumann bottleneck include:

  • Caching -- the storage of frequently used data in a special area (usually RAM), so that it is more readily accessible than if it were stored in main memory.
  • Prefetching -- moving some data into cache before it is requested to speed access in the event of a request.
  • Multithreading -- managing multiple requests simultaneously in separate threads.
  • New types of RAM (random access memory) -- for example, DDR SDRAM, which activates output on both the rising and falling edge of the system clock rather than on just the rising edge, to potentially double output.
  • RAMBUS -- a memory subsystem consisting of the RAM, the RAM controller, and the bus (path) connecting RAM to the microprocessor and devices in the computer that use it.
  • Processing in memory (PIM), which integrates a processor and memory in a single microchip.

 See also: data transfer rate, bandwidth, hard disk, instruction, input/output (I/O), read-only memory (ROM), Fast Guide to RAM

This was last updated in November 2016

Continue Reading About von Neumann bottleneck

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

This helped me in my Computer Science class, we are learning about the Von Neumann Architecture. Thanks for the help.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

  • spear phishing

    Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • ZFS

    ZFS is a local file system and logical volume manager created by Sun Microsystems to control the placement, storage and retrieval...

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

  • GlusterFS (Gluster File System)

    GlusterFS (Gluster File System) is an open source distributed file system that can scale out in building-block fashion to store ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

  • SSD caching

    SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close