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on 27 February 2003
This book is quite a strange case. For sure, it is the most widely used around the world for intro courses on Computer Architecturs (CAs). Could it be because Hennessy and Patterson are, at present and since a long time, two of the most prominent researchers in the field, Hennessy being now also President of Stanford University, Patterson a professor at Berkeley. But it would be too reductive to limit the view to this only. So we should move inside the book and try to understand the real (or other) reasons.
As an introductory text on CA, the approach is different than the somewhat classical one.
Those who'd expect a few introductory chapters on logic design (as, e.g., Mano & Kime's chapters or Murdocca's long appendixes) will find instead a short appendix that describes basic components (gates, registers, clocks and so on) at a high level (never mention digital abstracion & co.).
The path then is not a survey of general concepts & principles of CA with eventually some real examples as application. Instead, the process is a strictly step-by-step constructive one: they build from scratch a new system funding the design with plenty of considerations and tips, even with warnings on most common "fallacies and pitfalls". All this done through a very straightforward and clear language and with lots of figures, well paced and presented. As a result, coping with the topics is pretty an easy task, and the most likely result is a thourough understanding of what they present.
So what they present ? Substantially, the MIPS, a well known (thanks to this book and their authors too, of course) and widely sold (thanks to its true qualities) RISC processor. The authors have been leaders in the development of the RISC architecture, which admittedly is by now the only good choice for CPU designs since even Intel in its newest architectures reduce all down to the execution of RISC instructions. Anyway, the attention is not only on RISC (and MIPS) architectures: it's "mostly" on these, but there's space for short disgressions in the PowerPC, 80x86 and Pentium Pro (the book is dated 1997) field. This is done through a section named "Real stuff" in each chapter, where after they've extensively developed the subpart of the MIPS (be it the ISA, the ALU or Datapath & Control, the Pipeline and so on), they summarily look at how the same concepts have been developed by PowerPC and 80x86 or Pentium.
All in all, if the book has been assigned as a textbook for a course, little integration is needed to understand it and made it useful for the course; or if it is used a self first introduction to computer architectures and especially RISC architecture, the book will prove a very good choice. And this happens simply because the transfer of knowledge is effective as probably the authors have intended it to be.
If what is needed is a reference, then perhaps the step-by-step approach would suggest other choices (e.g. Tanenbaum, Murdocca, Stallings or Mano & Kime).
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on 24 August 1998
My lecturer told the students it was the best book in the world. I don't exactly agree with him, but I must say that it is one of the best book in its class. The good points are pretty much sumed up by Amazon's review.
I am currently using it as a text, and I have the same problem as Craig because there is no way I can check if my answers are right on my own. END
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on 29 August 1998
overall, a very clear and understandable book. examples and motivation was very well presented. some of the material on system performance (first chapter) could be skimmed/trimmed to obtain the vital information quickly. i would also wager some of the beefier chapters could be trimmed without losing clarity (some passages seemed redundent)
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on 15 November 1997
This book kicks butt. It's got everything most programmers could
possibly want to know about how the machine underneath works, and more.
It covers circuit logic, hardware arithmetic, how a processor works . . .
It answered all of my "I wonder how that happens in the machine" questions.
However, I doubt you'd really want to read it unless you're in a
computer architecture class. I don't even mind the ridiculous price; it's
one of the few textbooks I feel is worth it.
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on 30 November 1998
This book is fine if you read it straight through. Worked fine in class but when used as a reference book it fails because the author often doesn't give the exact answer at first. He abstacts it from the reader until it can be better explained later. Makes looking back at this book hard.
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on 2 February 1998
If you're interested in the subject matter, I don't think you'll find a better book. Very interesting to read; great examples. Definitive.
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on 10 March 1998
I am doing the exercises at the end of each chapter, but I don't know if I am right or wrong. Are there any answers to these questions so I know where I stand? If there are, please let me know as soon as possible.
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on 11 April 2016
The book condition is perfect. Thank you very much!
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on 2 June 2010
Great experience, arrived early and really cheap, this was just a textbook for uni so didnt matter what condition it was in and it arrived in a lot better shape than I expected!
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