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Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, 4th Edition 4th Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0123704900
ISBN-10: 0123704901
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“If Neil Armstrong offers to give you a tour of the lunar module, or Tiger Woods asks you to go play golf with him, you should do it. When Hennessy and Patterson offer to lead you on a tour of where computer architecture is going, they call it Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, 4th Edition. You need one. Tours leave on the hour.”
― Robert Colwell, Intel lead designer

“The book has been updated so it covers the latest computer architectures like the 64-bit AMD Opteron as well as those from Sun, Intel and other major vendors ... I highly recommend this book for those learning about computer architecture or those wanting to understand architectures that differ from those they are currently using. It does an excellent job of
covering most of the major architectural approaches employed today.”
― William Wong, Electronic Design, November 2006

“Computer hardware is entering into a new era, what with multicore processing, virtualization and other enhancements … Computer Architecture covers these topics and updates the insightful work in the earlier editions that laid out the full range of metrics needed for evaluating processor performance.”
― Joab Jackson, GCN, November 20, 2006

Book Description

The best-selling computer architecture book redefines the field with each new edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 4 edition (September 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0123704901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0123704900
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Computer architecture has seen vast changes in the last 20 years, and fortunately, H&P somehow manage to do a new edition about every 5 years, often enough to stay current. When the First Edition appeared, it quickly became *the* standard textbook on the topic, to be replaced in that role by each successive edition.

Computer architectures complexify over time, and so do books. The Third Edition was about 1100 pages long. The Fourth has been shrunk back to something more manageable by moving subsidiary details to a CD included with the book.

This edition is well worth having, even if one already has the earlier ones. In particular, the additional material on multiprocessors is especially welcome, given that it has become much more difficult to speed up uniprocessors.

Most people who work in or near computer systems architecture know these books, but I have often recommended them to others, such as technology journalists, venture capitalists, and financial analysts, i.e., people who are rarely computer archtiects, but need to understand computer technology and its trends. Many such have been surprised to find the book was useful to them.

H&P write very clearly, and each chapter outlines its key concepts for a topic, then works down to detailed analyses, and then comes back up to summarize. hence, I've often recommended to people:

1) Read the first few sections of each chapter.

2) In each remaining section per chapter, read until the going gets heavy, then skip to the next section. In some cases, this will happen after reading the first paragraph, but don't worry, the writing will return to a higher level.

3) Read "Concluding Remarks" and any "Fallacies and Pitfalls" or Historical Perspectives" sections at the end of a chapter.

Anyway, I expect this Edition will be just as indispensable as the earlier ones.
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Format: Paperback
It appears that this book was rushed out by the publisher, *unfinished*.

Core subjects that would normally be chapters in other books, such as "Computer Arithmetic", "Storage Systems", "Large-scale multiprocessors", "Survey of Instructions Set", etc (nine chapters in total ), have been relegated to an "Online Appendices" status, which is a misnomer because as of 2011/10/20 they don't exist at all, even online (a terse "coming soon" appearing on the website).

My suggestions: don't buy the book now, wait until the missing chapters are published and appears in print in the book itself.

If you buy the book now, you will only be able to read a lot of chapters as ".pdf" when they get published, not a pleasant experience in my opinion, and you will also contribute to encourage publishers in this bad practice.

To give you an idea of how bad it is, the number of non-printed chapters (9) is the same as the number of printed chapters (6 + 3 "appendices") and if we can trust the authors themselves: "There are more pages in these appendices (the non-printed ones) than there is in this book" (preface p xvi) !

[Update: 2011/11/01: the appendices are now present on the books web site in pdf. But still no printed paper version of the appendices available or announced]
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Format: Paperback
The first and second editions described how to evaluate and determine what gives systems performance advantages over others. They got down to the real nuts and bolts of a system and described what made one optimal over others. Recent editions seem to be promoting current trends and technologies. I think one of the reasons for more editions in shorter periods of time is because a lot of the technologies they are examining don't have any real substance or staying power. The other reason I have been staying away from using recent releases is the reliance on web content. If I buy or recommend a book I expect it to be a whole book and not half of it dependent on web content that can disappear at a moments notice. If I wanted to recommend a website I will recommend a website and NOT a book. What would be nice is if they got back to the basics of what really makes one system more optimal, faster, than another with a historical perspective. Why computer architecture evolved following one path over another.
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Format: Paperback
I had this book for a graduate course in computer science, and after having been through it, I can say several parts of it are in major need of a rewrite. To be fair, a lot of the material was engaging, and even fun to read; but the layout was so awful that much of what they were saying couldn't be understood by someone not already familiar with the subject without wading through the appendices. In their defense, it is the fourth edition of the book, and the technology has changed much since its inception, so the format is going to be a little messed up. This is also likewise a major strike against them in the area of the exercises: Many of them are very badly written, have little to no relation to what is actually taught in the text, and are fraught with obvious errors that should have been caught two editions ago. On a few of them, even our instructor (who is very knowledgeable) had to throw up his hands and declare that it was anyone's guess.

All in all, this text has a lot good information and potential, but badly needs revision and restructuring if it's to be a truly great learning tool.
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