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Inside the Machine by Jon Stokes
By: Barzan "Tony" Antal
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    Table of Contents:
  • Inside the Machine by Jon Stokes
  • Inside the Book
  • More About the Book...
  • Conclusion

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    Inside the Machine by Jon Stokes - Inside the Book

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    The book has 320 pages in 12 chapters including a Preface and an Index. As I've said previously, this book is not an ordinary computer architecture book that is either written like a textbook with overly advanced language or so simple that a knowledgeable person would be bored to hell. Its style is unique.

    Table of Contents:

    1. Basic Computing Concepts
    2. The Mechanics of Program Execution
    3. Pipelined Execution
    4. Superscalar Execution
    5. The Intel Pentium and Pentium Pro
    6. PowerPC Processors: 600 Series, 700 series, and 7400
    7. Intel's Pentium 4 vs. Motorola's G4e: Approaches and Design Philosophies
    8. Intel's Pentium 4 vs. Motorola's G4e: The Back End
    9. Introduction to 64-bit computing and x86-64
    10. The G5: IBM's PowerPC 970
    11. Understanding Caching and Performance
    12. Intel's Pentium M, Core, and Core 2 Duo

    Now that you've glanced over the table of contents, let me explain why I consider its style so unique. Its composition impressed me right from the beginning.

    Jon Stokes has said that he wrote the book so that the chapters would not need to be read linearly unless someone is completely new to the whole science of microprocessor architecture. Enthusiasts, hardcore geeks, and engineering students should find that the chapters make sense and can be read one by one, individually, in any order.

    The book opens with an introduction to the basics of computing that explains numerous concepts (i.e. data, code, programming, machine language, ALU, etc.) that will be used frequently throughout the book. These concepts are the core of microprocessor architecture.

    The first four chapters could be considered to be "introduction" chapters too. They contain all of the must-have information needed to understand the rest of the book. All of the terms and concepts are explained in these four chapters and are demonstrated through the example of a simplified processor. You'll read about (DLW)-i.e., the distinction between instruction and data, pipelined and superscalar execution, assembly language, register addressing, ISA, and more.

    The reader can find a wealth of knowledge in the first four chapters alone. While they may posess an understanding of—and intuitively answer ambiguous questions about—microprocessors, the truth is that very few people truly know how microprocessors and computers work.

    I can definitely say that these first four chapters are much needed for beginners, but I personally would still recommend them to more advanced readers too. Aside from their technical content, they're also very useful for making the reader familiar with the author's style and the interpretation of his diagrams.

    The remaining chapters are based on real-world microprocessor examples. The author leads the reader through the evolution of microprocessors and computers. The following processors are discussed in detail:

    Intel -Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Pentium III, Pentium 4, Pentium M, Core Duo/Solo, Core 2 Duo/Solo
    Motorola/IBM -Power PC Series (601, 603, 603e, 604, 750, 7400 aka G4, 7445 aka G4e)
    IBM -Power PC 960 and Power4.

    The aforementioned microprocessors are introduced in the book and described in chronological order; I've sorted them by manufacturer.

    As computing has advanced in quantum leaps, processor architecture has grown harder and more complex; but Stokes always introduces the architecture by comparing it to the simplified processor presented in the first four chapters so that the reader is able to understand the technological changes. Presenting these processors in contrast to each other helps the reader to really understand how they work and to imagine what's happening inside of their systems.

    More Computer Processors Articles
    More By Barzan "Tony" Antal

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