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Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, 4th Edition Paperback – September 27, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0123704900 ISBN-10: 0123704901 Edition: 4th

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Editorial Reviews


"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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Information given in chapters is plain text while exercises are purely numeric.
The topics are well explained, and the material is presented in a understandable fashion.
D. Freeman
The references are also extensive --- a great book for both learning and research.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 67 people found the following review helpful By John R Mashey on September 24, 2006
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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Thibodaux on February 13, 2009
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Y. Zhu on December 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read the 3rd edition cover to cover a few years ago and was amazed by its comprehensive coverage for computing related topics from high level to details. Now, the 4th edition is no worse and worth the money. With significant shift from single processor to multiprocessor, it matches the technology trend and stays on top of current industry challenges. This book is a definitely must have for both learning and referencing.

Regretfully, the publisher decided to save cost by moving many useful appendix chapters to CD and use paperback. The stretch to other topics like virtual memory, networking seems unnecessary. But that doesn't affect the overall book quality.

Combining this architecture level view with in-depth coverage of other important computer areas like "Computer organization and design", "operating system concepts" and "computer network", you will have a clear view of the whole infrastructure of the high tech industry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Y. Nozue on July 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those who have never read this book, I'd emphasize that this is not a computer architecture book that explains some basic stuffs. Instead, this book focuses more on the performance aspect of the computers and I'd say this is the ONLY worthwhile book that discusses from that viewpoint. So, if you are to study the computer performance, your choice is either reading this book or reading tons of papers published by researchers or both. It means you must have a good understanding on the computer architecture before reading this book.

My only complaint is that though the book is available only with paperback now, they didn't reduce the price. It's still worth the price, though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Zaleski on March 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book isn't for the timid. It goes deep into several recent CPU designs and explains why the architectures turned out the way they did. There is decent coverage of RISC versus CISC ideas, and why CISC now dominates (hint: it is a combination of luck, marketing, and massive amounts of available transistors, plus new ways of instruction-level parallelism).

It does not cover the absolute latest processors. But it doesn't have to. It will give you the background needed that when you go to the website that have technical details of a new architecture (e.g. Ars Technica), chances are good you will know the concepts they reference.

Who shouldn't buy this: Programmer's in high level languages expecting to learn some black magic way to speed up your code. Even assembly language programmers have been mostly sidelined by the power of a modern CPU to optimize high-level languages.
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