Teach Computing

Revision notes, activities, lesson plans, teaching ideas, and other resources for GCSE, A-Level, and IB Computer Science teachers and students.

What's New

Emergency Management System Explainer Video

This short video gives an overview of some EMIS features. It includes many ...

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

For some functionality, an EMIS may also be connected to a GIS (Geographic ...

Programming languages - from Scratch to machine code

The CS Field Guide has a very comprehensive guide to different types of pro...

Assembly language simulators

There are several assembly language simulators available for use online. Si...

Little Man Computer (LMC)

The Little Man Computer (LMC) is a software simulator of a simple computer ...

Lesson - Data representation - sound

This download contains all lesson resources necessary to teach students how...

Predictive placement

Predictive placement is a feature of some CAD systems that enables more e...

AI to help emergency dispatch phone operators

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) may trial an AI system to help tra...

Mobile Data Terminals (MDT)

MDT technology is referenced in the case study booklet, with such systems b...

Resources discount offer

6.1 Resource Management

Click here for recommended IB Computer Science textbooks.

System Resources

6.1.1 Resources that need to be managed

In this section pupils need to know the basic categories of resource that are available on most, if not all, computer systems. Many GCSE Computer Science pupils will already know these, but sound processor, graphics processor, and cache are three that may not have been studied previously.


BBC Bitesize: Data Storage

Covers all aspects of primary and secondary storage devices, including interactive lesson activities, notes, and a revision quiz. Well illustrated, this page also details the relative advantages and disadvantages of each storage medium.

Updated: 2015-04-25

IGCSE ICT: Storage

Although targetted at the IGCSE ICT syllabus, this site still has a lot of useful information for other courses. Their section on storage covers different types of storage media and storage devices, including optical, magnetic, and solid state systems. They also have a section on backing up data.

Updated: 2015-04-25

TeachICT: Storage

Teach-ICT is a popular site which covers the basic topics of computer science - in this case, with notes on secondary storage devices and comparisons in terms of capacity, speed, portability, durability, and reliability. It also has a small section on online storage (cloud computing)

Updated: 2015-04-25
Computer hardware worksheet

Worksheet: Hardware roles

To help Computer Science students understand hardware, resource allocation, and resource management, it is helpful to have them first understand the roles each component plays in a computer system. This simple worksheet covers the key resources in a computer system, with space for examples, relevant units, and a brief description of the component's role. It is useful from early topics in GCSE Computer Courses up to the IB Computer Science HL topic Resource Management.

Download the worksheet

Updated: 2017-10-17
Main memory

Main Memory

This video examines the three main types of of main memory and explains the purpose of each. It also highlights common confusion surrounding between RAM, ROM, cache, and registers. Each memory type is compared in terms of speed, capacity, cost, and volatility.

Updated: 2017-11-12

6.1.2 Available resources

In this section pupils must the typical specifications of different device classes. These devices range from smart phones and sub-laptops (netbooks) to high end servers and mainframes.

Supercomputers vs mainframes

Supercomputers and Mainframes

Supercomputers and What are Mainframes? are two short videos that clarify these oft confused terms. The presenter can be a little annoying at times, but the key information is useful.

Understanding the different types of computers helps CS students get a better understanding of the levels of resources available, as well as their effect on overall computer 'power'.

Updated: 2017-10-17
Computer specifications

Worksheet: Computer systems and resources

This activity is designed to help students complete the objective "Evaluate the resources available in a variety of computer systems". The worksheet is a simple table covering the most common types of computer systems available, including those mentioned on the IB Computer Science syllabus. As the specifications of computers change so rapidly, this is a good introduction activity.

To help students find specifications for consumer electronics, I often recommend they use a site such as Amazon.com, which involves a lot of details in its specifications. Top 500 maintains a list of the most powerful supercomputers at any time - a scroll down the list reveals technical specs for each one.Inside Six of the Newest Top 20 Supercomputers is another great resource. What's particularly useful is its explanations of each computer's role. Inside the Titan Supercomputer is a close-up look at a machine boasting 299,000 processing cores!

Download the worksheet

Updated: 2017-10-17
Device specifications

Device specifications

Device Specifications is a simple site with a huge database of smart phones and their technical specifications. This is useful for pupils to see where smart phones 'fit' in the spectrum of computing resources.

Updated: 2018-11-13

6.1.3 Limitations of resources & 6.1.4 Consequences

These two specification points are very closely related: pupils must be able to identify potential limitations of a computer system's resource and be able to describe the problems that arise as a result of this.

Smart phone specifications

Smart phone specs explained

This excellent site is a detailed guide to smart phone specifications, explaining the impact of changing specifications. The guide covers processor, GPU, memory, display, and more.

Updated: 2018-11-13

Role of the Operating System

6.1.5 Managing memory, hardware, peripherals

In this section you must understand the operating system's general role in managing a computer's resources: secondary storage, primary storage (memory), and processor time. In section 6.1.7 you will learn about the techniques the OS uses in more detail.

Operating systems video

Video: Operating Systems: Crash Course Computer Science

A thorough overview of operating systems, the reason we need them, and the types of tasks they perform. Some of the technical language is dropped in without explanation and will probably go over the heads of GCSE students at first, but it is worth sticking with because the level of detail is good.

Updated: 2018-01-11
Operating systems notes

Operating Systems Theory

This page contains notes on operating systems, memory management, hardware management, and user interfaces. The level of detail is perfect for GCSE courses, but also useful as an introduction to operating systems for A-Level and IB courses.

Updated: 2018-01-11
BBC Bitesize operating systems

BBC Bitesize: Operating Systems

This is the better of the two BBC pages on operating systems, covering the functions of an OS in much more detail and with much clearer explanations. There are clear notes and diagrams covering CPU management, memory management, and peripheral management.

Updated: 2018-01-11
BBC Bitesize operating systems

Operating system functions

This page provides a brief over of general operating system functions. The second page then goes into more detail about the different types of process management, including multi-programming, batch processing, and multi-user access.

Updated: 2018-01-11

Note: The IB syllabus does not include a section 6.1.6. This appears to be an error.

6.1.7 OS Resource management techniques

In this section you must understand how an operating system manages the allocation of storage, (on disk and in memory), how the OS assigns memory to running programs, and how it allocates processor time to programs.

Interrupts and Polling

Polling and Interrupts

An overview of how the CPU services peripherals and other hardware using interrupts and polling. The notes show the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Updated: 2018-01-11

6.1.8 Dedicated Operating Systems

General purpose operating systems and dedicated operating systems are covered in this section, including the differences between them and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

6.1.9 Hiding complexity

The operating system presents an abstract view of many concepts in a computer system, including drive letters, virtual memory, and even virtual machines such as the Java VM.