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Inside the Machine

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the take-a-look-in-there dept.

Book Reviews 53

Paul S. R. Chisholm writes "Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture, written by Ars Technica's Jon "Hannibal" Stokes, talks about how CPUs work, and how they've evolved and advanced in the past fifteen years. The result is detailed, very up-to-date (including descriptions of Intel's Core 2), generally clear, and covers a lot of fascinating material." Read below for Paul's review.

How on earth have CPUs advanced as fast as they have? How have we gone from 60 MHz Pentiums in 1993 to 3.73 GHz Xeons (with two cores) and 2.66 GHz Core 2 Extremes (with four!) today? Sure, Moore's Law and competition pushed the chip makers, but how did they implement all that extra performance? In Inside the Machine, Jon "Hannibal" Stokes provides a thorough, exhaustive, nearly exhausting look at what's at the heart of your computer. If Stoke's name sounds familiar, he's a founder and long-time contributor to Ars Technica. Anyone who liked his work there, his comprehensive articles and brightly colored diagrams, will probably enjoy this book a lot.

The first two chapters cover the basics of CPU operation and machine language. These are pretty good, though you'll probably need some assembler language experience to really understand everything in these chapters. Even without such experience, you'll pick up enough to get through the rest of the book.

The next two chapters get more advanced, covering pipelined and superscalar execution. CPUs don't execute one instruction at a time. Instead, they break instructions into smaller operations, and work on those smaller operations in parallel. These two chapters begin to tell how CPUs do that. (The book also discusses caching, another huge performance booster. For some reason, Stokes doesn't get to that until chapter 11.)

The rest of the book discusses specific CPUs. From Intel, we see the original Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium 4, Pentium M, Core, and Core 2. (Intel didn't release as much information about the Pentium II and III.) From the Apple/IBM/Motorola alliance, we learn about the 601 (the heart of Apple's first "Power Mac"), 603, 604, 750 (G3), 7400 (G4), and 970 (G5). In the middle of all that, there's also an excellent description of 64-bit computing, its advantages, and even its disadvantages.

Every buzzword you've ever heard about CPUs is covered: front end vs. back end, branch prediction, out-of-order execution, pipeline stalls, SIMD, direct-mapped vs. N-way set associative mapping. That sounds intimidating, but Stokes introduces the concepts one at a time, clearly and in detail. The next time an overclocking fanatic tries to tell you why his AMD CPU is so much better than your Intel CPU (or vice versa), you'll not only be able to follow the whole discussion, you'll be able to argue back.

Stokes turns all this into a (highly technical) history of CPU development. One chip's virtue is its successor's vice; one generation's shortcoming is another's opportunity.

This book reinforced something I already knew but don't often enough live by: Portability depends on architecture (for example, x86 vs. PowerPC), but high performance depends on microarchitecture (for example, Pentium M vs. Athlon 64 X2). Today's Core 2 chips have many high performance features missing from the 1993 original Pentiums. A good compiler like gcc can take advantage of those additional features. This is bad news if you're using a binary Linux distribution, compiled to a lowest common denominator. It's good news if you're building and installing Linux from source, with something like Linux From Scratch or Gentoo/Portage. It's also good news for just-in-time compilers (think Java, .NET, and Mono); they're compiling on the "target" machine, so they can generate code tailored for the machine's exact microarchitecture.

The full color diagrams were a big help in understanding Stokes's points. On the other hand, I'm not sure why the book was printed in hardcover. To make it look more like a textbook? Is that a good thing?

The text is packed with jargon, buzzwords, and TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations). Most of that is unavoidable, but a glossary would have been nice. Each chapter builds on the previous ones, so most readers will want to read all the chapters in order, paying close attention the whole time. Even so, this book had a lot more forward references ("I'll define that shortly" or "We'll get to that later") than most technical books.

Don't expect much non-technical discussion. Exceptions: There is a very good description of the Pentium 4's obsession with higher and higher clock speeds, including marketing pressures, and the resulting performance increases and drawbacks. The occasional "Historical Context" sections are also quite nice. But you'll see nothing on Apple's decision to move from PowerPC to Core, or the competitive battle between AMD and Intel. For that matter, you'll see almost nothing at all about AMD or its products.

Personally, I think Stokes missed an important opportunity to talk in depth about multiprocessing. He spends only four pages on the subject, and that only as part the description of the Core Duo. You'd think there was never a multi-core G5. There's only a couple of paragraphs on the difference between multiple CPUs and multiple CPU cores. ("Dual dual-cores" and the AMD 4x4, anyone?) He declines to discuss how caches interact with multiple CPUs or multiple cores. That's unfortunate, because anyone doing multi-threaded software development really needs to understand cache issues, at just about exactly the level this book covers. But you'll find nothing here about cache coherency, or about what out-of-order execution results might be visible only to multi-threaded software.

Jon Stokes had an incredibly ambitious goal: to write an accessible book that covers much of the same ground as Hennessy and Patterson's Computer Architecture and Computer Organization and Design. I don't think he achieved that, but he came pretty close.

You can visit the book's home page or the author's blog.

Paul S. R. Chisholm has been developing software for 25 years. He's worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Ascend Communications / Lucent Technologies, Cisco Systems, and some small startups you've never heard of. His latest article, "'Pure Virtual Function Called': An Explanation," appeared in The C++ Source. He lives and works in New Jersey.


You can purchase Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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One problem... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322035)

It never shows the Mario character who constantly flushes the bit bucket down the toliet.

intel (3, Informative)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322119)

I would also recommend The Intel Architecture Software Developers Manual. Oh, and its free.

Re:intel (1)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322407)

Or Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach by Hennessy & Patterson

Re:intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18322877)

links would be nice, you insensitive clods!

Re:intel (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18325385)

Absolutely. I'm thumbing through my Hennessy & Patterson right now. If you want to understand how to design a basic CPU, I highly suggest this book as well. Within a matter of weeks, you'll be designing your own multicycle FSM in verilog. It's undergone about four or five revisions now, but I still have my first edition [amazon.com] . It doesn't cover pipelining or multiprocessors in _great_ detail, but more than enough to get anyone familiar with the concepts. Anything by Hennessy & Patterson is a keeper!

Link (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323047)

Re:Link (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18325439)

Links make life easier. Thank *you* mastershake!

Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18322145)

Machines evolve?!! We're doomed!!!

Re:Oh noes! (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322235)

yes.

Expect to be the equivalent of a double-a in a pod sometime around the middle of next week.

Have a nice day.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322677)

Hey, when should I schedule that for? My calendar has been on the fritz because of this Daylight Saving Time thing, and I don't know what your time zone settings are.

Re:Oh noes! (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323601)

Machines don't evolve. God created them just the way they are.

Wow! (0, Flamebait)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322183)


Every buzzword you've ever heard about CPUs is covered: front end vs. back end, branch prediction, out-of-order execution, pipeline stalls, SIMD, direct-mapped vs. N-way set associative mapping.


You too can pose as a tech-literate computer expert on slashdot, merely by reading what you would consider remedial level material, if you were what you thought you were.

Re:Wow! (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322239)

The next time an overclocking fanatic tries to tell you why his AMD CPU is so much better than your Intel CPU (or vice versa), you'll not only be able to follow the whole discussion, you'll be able to argue back.

But you'll see nothing on Apple's decision to move from PowerPC to Core, or the competitive battle between AMD and Intel. For that matter, you'll see almost nothing at all about AMD or its products.

You'll be able to fight back with not knowing what the fuck you're talking about, like a true slashdot poster!

Act fast, supplies are limited and demand is high!

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18322383)

You too can pose as a tech-literate computer expert on slashdot, merely by reading what you would consider remedial level material, if you were what you thought you were.


Except for you because you alone are an expert on CPU architecture?

Oh well, at least your not bitter. ** snigger **

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18322667)

Oh well, at least your not bitter. ** snigger ** Slashdot is no place for racial slurs.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18323073)

>> Oh well, at least your not bitter. ** snigger **
> Slashdot is no place for racial slurs.

I'd like to apologize to any disrespectful laughs that my original comment may have offended.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18323141)

You too can pose as a tech-literate computer expert on slashdot, merely by reading...
Stop right there, buddy. You must be new here.

On Slashdot, you can pose as a tech-literal computer expert without reading anything!

Re:Wow! (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324431)

Well if it does what is purported, then it still covers what is a roughly 2nd or 3rd year curriculum for a computer engineering degree program. Even given that it may not do as good a job of presenting the material as an actual course, that's not bad for a layman's book, and it's cheaper than Hennessy and Patterson.

Frankly I think it would do the quality of CPU discussion on /. some good if more people had some knowledge on these topics not derived from Tom's Hardware. And certainly it would do nothing to change the number of people pretending to be computer experts on /., since most of those do so without having ever read a computer book to begin with.

And, to go on a geeky utopianist side-track for a second, it would be fantastic if the resources available to amateurs regarding computer architecture was comparable to those available to amateur programmers. That's been one thing I always liked about programming, the ability to self-teach and test out what you've learned. Now if only FPGAs were cheaper and simpler to get so people could use this knowledge. I've looked an it's possible to get dev boards, I just mean something like you walk into Fry's and buy a Xylinx board with dev tools for your PC and a book on architecture, then go home and code yourself up an Alpha.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18325375)

That's the problem. That's the problem with Ars and Jon's columns there. It's 2nd year CE stuff.


I know it's well intentioned, but taking a arch class and starting to understand the basics doesn't really qualify you to read the specs on a CPU and then start telling people how it's going to perform a year before it shows up. Especially these days, when some very radical things are being done. The conventional "wisdom" of 2001 isn't really what everyone is doing anymore.


There is no discussion with 2nd year CE chat, sure, you can talk but it's just that. I mean some really basic stuff seems to get glossed over on Ars when these subjects come out. Branch prediction and OOE are the end all be all and the saving grace of all things holy; CPU makers are taking them out because compilers can do a good enough or even better job of it now and to lower power and continue to increase speed they need that silicon for other things. Sure it helps you live in your fan boi world but it's far from understanding. Rather than trying to grok and understand the direction of things like Cell or Niagra, it's just easier to debunk it as not as fast as a Core because the pipeline is too deep so branch mispredicts cost more; never mind the details.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18328067)

Ars hasn't been worried about technical edification in years. They want subscriber numbers and ad revenue. And their Wikipedia entry is staked out to make sure that nothing interferes with that goal. The editors regularly remove any criticism sections, or any mention of Ars being anything other than purist.

Re:Wow! (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331585)

Branch prediction and OOE are the end all be all and the saving grace of all things holy; CPU makers are taking them out because compilers can do a good enough or even better job of it now and to lower power and continue to increase speed they need that silicon for other things.


After all, the Itanium (which embraced exactly what you speak of) was such a huge success and well regarded by the community for its amazing integer performance.

The CPUs that have remove these things (are in-order, for example) are currently in consoles and are for power savings as well as real-estate savings. You have to cut something if you want more cores on the die. However, the performance of those cores (like the ones in the XBox360, the Wii, and the PPU in the PS3) are not that fast by today's standards. They tend to be compared with processors from two generations back (Pentium III and G4) on general purpose code. Plus, there are plenty of types of codes that really need OOOE and good branch prediction to keep the processor running at high efficiency (AI, for example).

Rather than trying to grok and understand the direction of things like Cell or Niagra,


Actually, both the Cell and Niagra are discussed fairly often and both are considered interesting. Just because some posters don't agree with you that the Cell is the answer to all our prayers simply means that there are different opinions. I think the direction is fairly well understood at this point, particularly since Intel and AMD have both jumped on the asymmetric cores bandwagon and talked about their plans quite a bit.

By the way, 'grok and understand' is redundant.

I just hope Tron is still in there (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322241)

I like to think he's still in there, fighting for the users.

Re:I just hope Tron is still in there (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322943)

...fighting for the users.

When asked for comment, Tron responded:
"Given the standard sub-standard training of most lusers,
they can kiss my glowing metal ass."

Re:I just hope Tron is still in there (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323405)

Oh, yeah? Well, I wonder how he'd take to working in a pocket calculator.

Different book name? (1)

Thirdsin (1046626) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322301)

"But you'll see nothing on Apple's decision to move from PowerPC to Core, or the competitive battle between AMD and Intel. For that matter, you'll see almost nothing at all about AMD or its products."
Perhaps he should have named his book something else.

Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to INTELprocessors and PC Architecture

Re:Different book name? (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322399)

you think he might've chosen Intel chips just to keep his explanations on what's most common? or is there some kind of hidden funding afoot?!?

Re:Different book name? (1)

Caesar (9965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323185)

As Jon noted in the book and elsewhere, AMD wasn't forthcoming with tech docs.

Re:Different book name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18326417)

Nor did they have any products worth considering at the time of writing.

Re:Different book name? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324021)

A source not cooperating never stopped an author before. He could have just used some creative license and made stuff up. The chapter would be called "AMD - If We Did It".



The above comment(s) test positive for sarcasm and should be taken with a pound of salt.

Re:Different book name? (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324887)

Just glancing at the table of contents, PowerPC is treated pretty much throughout, often in direct comparison to the Intel Way. I'm not sure what differences you would expect to see between discussion of x86 from and Intel or AMD perspective. Really it would be nice if there were more in there on SPARC, Alpha, or Itanium.

Re:Different book name? (1)

thyrf (1059934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18326739)

That wouldn't really be the best title. Intel defined the x86 architecture (which is why you might remember seeing some old software that says it's built for an Intel PC) whilst the other manufacturers were merely clones (cyrix, amd, etc.). It wasn't until a fair few years after the introduction of x86 that companies such as amd branched further away from what intel were doing. Just compare how a core duo works with an athlon x2. This could be one of the reasons why AMD weren't covered as extensively, no doubt it'd require another fair few more chapters.

Maybe it should be "Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to processors (made by Intel) and PC Architecture" :)

Re:Different book name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18327299)

When I was in school we used "Computer Organization & Architecture" by William Stallings, it also completely ignores AMD, but also Apple. It does focus heavily on Intel, PowerPC, and the unfortunate Itanium (not covered at all in the class). So I get the feeling maybe that it is expected to give AMD no love. The legal battle and competitive battle outside of technology between Intel and AMD though is something I feel shouldn't be in a textbook like this, if that was its ulterior goal to be a textbook.

He also may not have had the time, resources, or pages allowed from the publisher to cover other things of importance like multi-processing the reviewer mentions.

64-bit? (1)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322311)

Is there much 64-bit like Intel's Itanium (1 and 2), DEC's Alpha (early 1990s), AMD64?

Re:64-bit? (1)

Icedman (933302) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328437)

There are a few, like MIPS R4000 in 1991, which was used by SGI, then there's Sun's SPARC, HP's PA-RISC..

And if you start looking at the supercomputers like Cray-1 and others, you find that 64-bit architecture has been in use for quite a while :P

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/64-bit [wikipedia.org] Wiki's 64-bit article has some info on what was and what is currently. Might be complete, might not be complete. Can't see much sources on that page, so it might not be accurate.

A bit more about the book and where to buy (5, Informative)

Caesar (9965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322455)

The review doesn't mention this, so I thought I would since I know many Slashdot readers also read Ars, but may have missed this.

If you buy the book from Ars [arstechnica.com] , shipping is free almost anywhere on earth (if the USPS ships there, so can we). Yes, we charge more than Amazon, but it's a good deal if you want to support Ars. We also include a free year of access to the Ars PDF Library, and we'll also be giving our customers a free copy of the digital edition when it's available later this year.

Re:A bit more about the book and where to buy (4, Insightful)

onsblu (1047608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322837)

It's a tough call: 2-day UPS for $31.47 (Amazon) or USPS w/o tracking for $49 (Ars).

Is that a limited-time offer? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18322953)

Any idea how long that price and shipping deal are going to be good for?

I don't normally go out and buy coffee-table type books for myself, but they make really good entries on a gift list. If that offer from Ars is going to be good for a while, I'll definitely keep it in mind, the next time I get someone bugging me through an intermediary that they want to know what I'd like as a gift.

New and Improved Advertising on Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18328263)

Just have your readers submit your ad for your book as a review to Slashdot! Awesome.

Then, have the guts to push people to buy it from *you* over Amazon (which sells it at about 60% of what you charge) and then say "Hey, we charge more, but you get access to our PDF library and a digital copy!". Wow. Color me impressed. Impressed with your margin, anyway. So, basically, you get to have nice print-ready versions of mostly amateur articles (PDFs which cost you nothing to produce), a digital copy of an overpriced book, and the warm, fuzzy feeling of supporting a commercial enterprise that is perpetually blanketed with ads and yet still has a subscription fee, and seems to practically scrape other sites for content ideas.

Meanwhile, Jon Stokes has some of the only readable articles on Ars, the rest being penned by the equivalent of short term editors on Slashdot. One can only hope that they are volunteers.

FYI (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330869)

I bought "Inside the Machine" just a few days ago after reading Hannibal's blog. I bought it from Amazon instead because I could not find it in the "Ars Store." There was no link to store.arstechnica.com from the blog or the Ars home page that I could find.The link I found was the Shop.Ars link to arstechnica.shopping.com which was useless. I thought it was just not in the store yet. You need to make the Ars Store easier to find if you want people to buy things from there. I really wanted to buy it from Ars because of the perks that Hannibal promised and to support Ars. An online version would have been fantastic and I missed-out. Plus you missed-out on a sale from the Ars Store.

ho80 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18322871)

rival distribution, distuWrbing. If you

Meant to complement H&P, not replace it (2, Informative)

mrbill (4993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323043)

Jon Stokes had an incredibly ambitious goal: to write an accessible book that covers much of the same ground as Hennessy and Patterson's Computer Architecture and Computer Organization and Design.

He actually says in the book that it should be used as an introduction, before someone dives into H&P.

Re:Meant to complement H&P, not replace it (2, Interesting)

ystar (898731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323831)

I've been using H&P for the past year, and though I see it as my bible, I wish the style it was presented in was a little (or rather, even) more clear - for instance, how latching works in basic pipelining or a step-by-step iterative diagram of Tomasulo (especially before adding in multiple-issue stuff)...I get confused having to look back to the beginning to "remember" how everything fits together ...although maybe my brain capacity is just getting smaller... :)

Perfect sequel to "Code" (4, Informative)

HonkyLips (654494) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323429)

I bought the book because I read Ars and enjoy Stokes' articles. I read it, loved it.

I thought it was the perfect logical sequel to an older book called "Code", by Charles Petzold (ISBN 0-7356-1131-9).

"Code", about 7 or 8 years old now, starts with the very basics of computation- beginning with binary codes and lightbulbs, then demonstrating how a microprocessor can be built from nothing but relays, and ending with a discussion of two classic microprocessors- the 8080 and 6800.

"Inside the Machine" basically picks up where "Code" finishes. It begins with a look at ISAs and CPUs, examine theoretical models slightly simpler than the 8080 and 6800, before moving onto pipelining and superscalar execution, and ending with the very latest from Intel.

It's a shame someplace like Amazon isn't selling them packaged together, you can easily work your way through Petzold's primer- beginning with the most fundamental basics of computing, end it with a solid understanding of the state of technology in the late 70's, then pick up Stokes' book and continue the journey through to the present day.

I recommend both books.

Re:Perfect sequel to "Code" (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324823)

Does this book cover how memory management works?

The reason I ask is that I used to code in Z80 years and years ago, but since then I've not written any assembler and although I have a vague understanding of whats changed, I don't actually know how any of it works -- memory management being one thing in particular that I don't understand!

Do not buy at Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18329231)

Do not buy at Amazon. They have this silly one-click patent.

ac

Series of tubes explanation? (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323441)

Does this book explain how the series of tubes works? Nobody seems to know...

TLA = Three Letter Acronym (2, Funny)

RandomIO (526821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18323613)

No wonder computers are so confusing!

Re:TLA = Three Letter Acronym (1)

minginqunt (225413) | more than 7 years ago | (#18329453)

TLA is not an acronym. It's an abbreviation.

I've been a pedant, goodnight.

Re:TLA = Three Letter Acronym (1)

_peter (54875) | more than 7 years ago | (#18330145)

You've been wrong, go to bed.

Other good texts... (4, Interesting)

kabdib (81955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18324471)

Other good texts include Processor Architecture: From Dataflow to Superscalar and Beyond (Silc, Robic, Ungerer) and (my favorite) Modern Processor Design: Fundamentals of Superscalar Processors (Shen and Lipasti). The latter appears to be more in-depth and technical than Inside the Machine (which is pretty, but which concentrates a little too much on implementations for my taste).

GCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18326859)

"A good compiler like gcc can take advantage of those additional features."

should be

"A compiler like gcc can take advantage of those additional features."

Another good read (1)

dreadknought (324674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18328373)

The Art of Assembly Programming is another great (online) book to read, which, IRRC, is almost completely about PC achitectures in the first 20 chapters or so, which help to explain some of the quirks in programming languages, esp. ASM, in later chapters.

Not so impressed (1)

mjrobinson (922279) | more than 6 years ago | (#18394257)

I know a moderate amount about the subject matter and wanted to know more so I bought the book. These are my opinions...

Editing: Each page of text appears to be split into 3 equal sections -
  • Text telling you what he's going to say, what he's just said, and perhaps why he won't be explaining a particular thing until chapter 9. I found this confusing and it just led me to hate the editor.
  • Some general waffle that neither helped explain the current subject or made the text easier to read.
  • An interesting fact was always buried in there somewhere.

Diagrams: Successful diagrams should explain a given point at a glance. These diagrams are just colourful interludes between the text.

TLA's: The text is full of TLA's yet little help is given to the reader to explain them. If a new TLA is introduced on a page then it should appear in a coloured text area to make it easy to find. A glossary of TLA's should be given at the back of the book as well.

Coverage: I thought he covered a lot of ground through the book (even if the book could of been a 1/3 the size) but I'd liked to of seen a little bit more about different types of processors (microcontroller processors, mainframe processors etc) just so I felt I had a wider knowledge.

You can learn a lot from this book but the author certainly isn't making it easy for you.

Mike

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