REVIEW - Embedded Systems and Computer Architecture


Embedded Systems and Computer Architecture


Graham R. Wilson



Newnes (2002)




Chris Hills


October 2002



An interesting book, it is complete and easy to read. A well thought out and structured first book on embedded systems. It covers number basic logic gates, memory, flip-flops, timers cache memory, serial ports, etc.

There are descriptions on how the registers in the processors work with walk thought on things like adding numbers. What is more there is software on the CD that animates the CPU to show the system (and internal busses) working. There is a simple to use logic gate animation and also lots of examples.

It sounds too good to be true. I was about to test it on my teenage son when reality hit. It is all a simulation of a mythical processor. A lot of work has gone into producing an assembler and linker to do with the simulator for this mythical processor.

So do you teach using a real processor or using a mythical one? I have heard the arguments on both sides from many people. Personally I prefer to use a real system (there is usually so much more available like hardware development kits and vast amounts of free code). The problem with using a mythical one is that you get no real world experience and the first thing you have to do is learn a new processor. Assuming you can get a job that is, since you have no experience of a real processor.

The software on the CD installs from a self-extracting

, so you can't get at any other files without doing a full install. It also insisted on installing to my C drive with no options on directories. On the good side it does check that the PC has the required spec. It is at this point that you discover that it will only run on Win98 or Win 2000! This does NOT impress me. These restrictions should be made clear on the cover of the book, where it loudly proclaims the free CD full of software.

The software is very good for teaching the basics, such as logic gates and internal processor workings, but it's not a real processor type. There are many respected lecturers who do prefer this method.

The book is exactly what it claims to be. An entry-level book for HND courses where this book is the set book. It is of little use to anyone else. (Though this comment does do the high quality of the book a bit of an injustice.) Lecturers at HND level should look at this book if you want to teach techniques without using a real processor.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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