REVIEW - Advanced PC Architecture


Advanced PC Architecture


William Buchanan, Austin Wilson



Addison-Wesley Professional (2001)




Chris Hills


April 2001



On first look, this book seemed very good. Unfortunately, as I read more, it did not become any better. In fact some of the text seemed a little out of focus. The design of this book is like a US college book. There are pages of questions at the end of each chapter but with no answers, which makes them of little use. The text does not seem to be a logical progression. This is borne out by the authors' own suggestion that the essential chapters are 27, 28, 12, 18 and 24 in that order!

I emailed the author who said that the power point slides and the student multi-choice test papers mentioned in the book would be available on-line 'soon'. Having seen the large amount of information currently on his web site I would give him the benefit of the doubt on this.

As well as diagrams, tables and notes from the author at the end of each chapter there are boxes with notes all through the text up to three on a page, which can give the page and the book a fragmented feel. These boxes contain, in no particular order, just like they use in the book, technical notes, history, tips, folk law and, it appears, jokes. One of which I will share with you, at least, I assume it is a joke. 'Best file compression around DEL *.* {dos} or rm-r *.* {UNIX} gives 100% compression'. It may look funny here but slipped in amongst technical tips and in the same format it is, at best, misguided.

One omission appears to be the 186 based PC, i.e. the RM Nimbus that was found in all educational establishments in the UK. This is an unusual omission as the book is by authors at a British University. Though it must be said that the 186 is more a historical footnote than required reading. Though the change in interrupt usage is an important lesson.

I am sure all the information is in there but I found finding it a problem. There seemed to be no way of moving from one point to another. Especially as some of the useful nuggets are in the afore mentioned boxes, un-indexed and seemingly unconnected to the page they are on. The authors have notes at the end of some of the chapters with information that could (should?) be in the main text. This reinforces my opinion that this is a course book for students, i.e. here are the facts for this lecture followed by some commentary that is not part of the set answer I will require in the exam.

Technically it all appears to be there and I could find no technical errors though I would disagree with some of their history of computing. I think it is just down to the style of the book.

Not recommended for general use but academics might consider it as a set book, especially with the additional teaching material the author promises. Personally I prefer the Brey books on the x86.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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