9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
good technical overview of systems architectures,
This review is from: In Search of Clusters (2nd Edition) (Paperback)
This book provides a terrific introduction to the hardware, software, and systems architecture of parallel computing, candidly discussing the issues and trade-offs in various approaches. The emphasis is on clusters, but there is lots of information on the whole continuum from single processor machines to SMPs to clusters to distributed computing. Pfister will leave you with a better understanding of things like how SMP machines keep processor caches coherent, what the differences are between SMP, NUMA, and distributed computing, how various cluster products work, real world cluster issues (like system administration), programming models used in parallel computing, and why programming code that runs efficently on these architectures is usually the hard part.
The book is somewhat dated - nothing about Beowolf for example - but the concepts remain valid. Many of the issues are illustrated with reference to mainframe clusters, especially IBM's 390 sysplex, which I found particularly interesting since I don't have much experience with these systems.
The style is highly readable and informal, but not insultingly non-technical. The book is loaded with opinion and insights - it is not a dry textbook of issues related to clustering. Highly recommended for anyone in the business of creating information systems that need to run fast.