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Operating System Architecture & Diagram

Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Mayank Dham

The Operating System architecture holds a crucial and indispensable role within every computer system. It creates an abstraction layer, serving as an intermediary connecting the user to the underlying hardware. Numerous Operating Systems are employed by individuals, including Windows, iOS, Android, among others. This article will delve into an exploration of the four primary OS architectures, accompanied by their respective merits and drawbacks.

Before delving deep into the topic let us learn a little about the Operating System.

Operating System

An Operating System is characterized as a software package that functions as a bridge connecting the user and the hardware components. Its role is to simplify user interactions with intricate hardware systems. The primary objective of an Operating System is to establish a conducive platform for the streamlined execution of programs. It undertakes significant responsibilities, including Resource Management, Process Management, Memory Management, Security, and File Management, to enhance the efficiency of operations.

Operating System Diagram

The Image given below depicts the Operating System Diagram.

As evident from the above image, Operating System is acting as an interface between overall all components of a computer system.

Important Terms related to Operating System Architecture

Here are some terms which will help us in understanding the OS Architecture in a much better way.

  • Kernel: The kernel in the operating system is responsible for managing the resources of the system such as memory, CPU, and input-output devices. The kernel is responsible for the implementation of the essential functions.
  • Shell: The shell in an Operating System acts as an interface for the user to interact with the computer system. The shell can be a command line interface or a graphical interface.

These two are major components of an Operating System.

Different Types of OS Architecture

The Operating System Architecture is of four types. These types are mentioned below.

  • Monolithic Architecture
  • Layered Architecture
  • Microkernel Architecture
  • Hybrid Architecture

Now let us understand each OS architecture in detail.

Monolithic Architecture

Monolithic Architecture is the oldest and the simplest type of Operating System Architecture. In this architecture, each and every component is contained in a single kernel only. The various components in this OS Architecture communicate with each other via function calls.

Advantages of Monolithic Architecture

The advantages of the Monolithic Architecture of the Operating System are given below.

  • This type of architecture is easier to develop.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • It shows efficient performance because of the direct communication between the components.
  • It is easy to secure as all the components are contained in a single file.

Disadvantages of Monolithic Architecture

Monolithic Architecture has the following disadvantages.

  • It is difficult to scalable.
  • Hard to update since the change in one component result in an entire system update
  • Large codebase which is difficult to understand.

Layered Architecture

In a layered architecture, the operating system is divided into layers, with each layer performing a specific set of functions. The layers are organized in a hierarchical order, with each layer depending on the layer below it. The layering approach makes the system easier to maintain and modify, as each layer can be modified independently without affecting the other layers.

Advantages of Layered Architecture

Here are some of the advantages of Layered Architecture.

  • Separation of concerns makes it easier to develop and maintain individual layers
  • Components within a layer can be swapped out without affecting other layers
  • Scalability is improved because layers can be scaled independently

Disadvantages of Layered Architecture

The disadvantages of Layered Architecture are given below.

  • Increased complexity due to the number of layers
  • This architecture can result in slower performance due to communication overhead between layers
  • Difficult to enforce strict separation between layers, which can lead to coupling and reduced modularity

Microkernel Architecture

Process management, networking, file system interaction, and device management are executed outside the kernel in this architecture, while memory management and synchronization are executed inside the kernel. The processes inside the kernel have a relatively high priority, and the components are highly modular, so even if one or more components fail, the operating system continues to function.

Advantages of Microkernel Architecture

Here are some of the advantages of Microkernel Architecture.

  • A highly modular design makes it easier to develop and maintain individual components
  • Can support a wide range of operating systems and hardware platforms
  • Enables customization and flexibility, allowing for the creation of tailored systems

Disadvantages of Microkernel Architecture

The disadvantages of Microkernel Architecture are given below.

  • Increased complexity due to the need to manage multiple components and communication between them.
  • Reduced performance due to communication overhead between components.
  • Requires a significant amount of testing and validation to ensure correct operation of the system.

Hybrid Architecture

As the name implies, hybrid architecture is a hybrid of all the architectures discussed thus far, and therefore it contains characteristics from all of those architectures, which makes it highly valuable in modern operating systems.

The hybrid architecture is comprised of three levels.

  • Hardware abstraction layer: This is the lowest level interface between the kernel and hardware.
  • Microkernel Layer: This is the conventional microkernel, which includes CPU scheduling, memory management, and inter-process communication.
  • Application Layer: This layer acts as an interface between the user and the microkernel. It includes features such as a file server, error detection, I/O device management, and so on.

Advantages of Hybrid Architecture

Here are the advantages that Hybrid OS Architecture provides us.

  • Combines the benefits of multiple architectures, such as microkernel and monolithic kernel, allowing for better performance, scalability, and flexibility.
  • Offers a higher level of security by isolating critical components in separate modules and reducing the attack surface.
  • Allows for easier integration of different software components, as it supports multiple programming paradigms and facilitates communication between them.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Architecture

The disadvantages of the Hybrid architecture are listed below.

  • Can be complex to design and maintain, as it requires managing multiple subsystems with different architectures and interfaces.
  • This architecture May result in slower system performance due to the increased overhead associated with managing multiple subsystems.
  • Can be more prone to compatibility issues, as different subsystems may require different versions of libraries and other dependencies.

In conclusion, understanding the operating system architecture and diagram provides valuable insights into the intricate layers and components that collectively enable the functionality of modern computing systems. The architecture serves as a blueprint, illustrating the hierarchical arrangement of system elements, while the diagram offers a visual representation of the interactions and relationships between these elements.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Some Frequently Asked Questions on Operating System Architecture are.

Ques 1. Can you explain the role of the user interface in operating system architecture?
Ans. The User Interface is responsible for the interactions of the users with the system. It can be a Command Line Interface(users enter commands) or a Graphical User Interface(user sees graphical icons for interaction).

Ques 2. What is a hypervisor in operating system architecture?
Ans. A hypervisor (also known as Virtual Machine Manager) is software that helps in creating virtual instances of the hardware resources and enables the concept of virtualization.

Ques 3. What is the file system in operating system architecture?
Ans. The part of the Operating System which is responsible for the management of the directories and organization of the data on storage devices is known as File System.

Ques 4. What is an operating system architecture?
Ans. An OS Architecture is defined as the overall design and structure of an operating system that includes components, modules, and layers of the system. There are majorly four types of OS Architecture, that have been discussed in the above article.

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