"Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture" explains the work of microprocessors—what they do and how they do it. This book definitely fills the gap between the classics—like Hennessy and Patterson titles—and other basic books that are intended for "dummies."
The book's author is Jon "Hannibal" M. Stokes, the co-founder and Senior CPU Editor of the highly popular and respected Ars Technica website. He has an awesome background and has written several technical publications and various articles related to computer architecture. He holds a degree in computer engineering from Louisiana State University and two advanced degrees in the humanities from Hardware University. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Let's see two cover shots of the book.
The book's list price is $49.95 ($61.95 CDN) although it can be purchased for around $30.95 ($38.95 CDN) via resellers. Before purchasing the book, I browsed thorough the sample chapter (Chapter 4: Superscalar Execution) that is freely available on the publisher's website. You can visit the "No Starch Press" website and download it here.
I was impressed by Stokes' tone, style, and teaching methods. His explanations are filled with numerous real-world analogies and colorful diagrams. Since I was already really into studying computer architecture, this topic fit my needs. I came to the conclusion that this was a must-have book and I immediately ordered it. Stokes' Ars Technica articles are very interesting and informative, so I knew what I could expect from this book.
Throughout this review, I'll be pointing out the qualities that were either most important for me as a student with an interest in engineering or those that exceeded my expectations and ultimately wouldn't let me put the book down.
I skimmed through it as soon as I had it unpacked. I was glad that it was hard cover and its style was exactly as I had expected. Its quality appeared even better in print than I had expected after seeing the online sample chapter. The diagrams were just as colorful—and they aren't just common diagrams, they are well-placed, simple, and intuitive.
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