Assembly is unit of deployment like EXE or a DLL.
An assembly consists of one or more files (dlls, exe's, html files etc.), and represents a group of resources, type definitions, and implementations of those types. An assembly may also contain references to other assemblies. These resources, types and references are described in a block of data called a manifest. The manifest is part of the assembly, thus making the assembly self-describing.
An assembly is completely self-describing.An assembly contains metadata information, which is used by the CLR for everything from type checking and security to actually invoking the components methods. As all information is in the assembly itself, it is independent of registry. This is the basic advantage as compared to COM where the version was stored in registry.
Multiple versions can be deployed side by side in different folders. These different versions can execute at the same time without interfering with each other. Assemblies can be private or shared. For private assembly deployment, the assembly is copied to the same directory as the client program that references it. No registration is needed, and no fancy installation program is required.
When the component is removed, no registry cleanup is needed, and no uninstall program is required. Just delete it from the hard drive.
In shared assembly deployment, an assembly is installed in the Global Assembly Cache (or GAC). The GAC contains shared assemblies that are globally accessible to all .NET applications on the machine.