Book Recommendation? - How computers / processors work

In summary, the conversation is about a person looking for a book recommendation to understand how computers and processors work at a deeper level. They are familiar with high-level programming and basic electronics but are looking to bridge the gap between the two. Another person suggests studying microcontrollers and recommends a specific textbook, while also mentioning that studying computer architecture can provide more information. The conversation ends with a book recommendation for "Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface."
  • #1
zhermes
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Book Recommendation? -- How computers / processors work

I'm familiar with basic, high-level programming (e.g. C) and the principles behind compilation, operating systems, etc. I'm also familiar with the basics simple electronics, e.g. circuits, transistors, simple logic gates, etc.

The space between these levels is a complete mystery; a magical black-box.

Does anyone have a book recommendation to fill in this (massive) gap?

I'd like to understand how simple circuits are built into processors, processors into computers, and perhaps how the high-level software code is translated into lower-level hardware-minded code.

I'm a physics graduate student, so I think I can handle a good amount of technical language and detail -- but perhaps not a full EE or CE level of it.

Thanks for your recommendations!
 
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  • #2


I'd recommend a good intro to microcontrollers or intro to assembly programming textbook. The abstraction starts disappearing when you have to figure out what register / memory location you have to shove bits into in order to perform various tasks--and when you end up banging your head against the wall trying to debug an innocuous-tiny looking program.

Unfortunately, I have to leave these generic, since I don't have any specific ones (when I was learning, I used Harman's The Motorola MC68332 Microcontroller: Product Design, Assembly Langauge Programming and Interfacing. It's nearly 20 years old, but the 332 (and it's descendants) live on today, powering a great number of embedded electronic devices.
 
  • #4


Studying basic microcontrollers like PIC etc will give you initial insight to the topic. Afterwards pick any computer architecture book for more information
 
  • #5


I highly recommend the book "Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software" by Charles Petzold. This book provides a comprehensive and accessible explanation of how computers and processors work, starting from the basics of binary code and building up to more complex concepts such as assembly language and computer architecture. It also includes discussions on how software code is translated into hardware instructions and how circuits are built into processors. I believe this book will fill in the gap you mentioned and provide a solid understanding of the inner workings of computers and processors. Happy reading!
 

Related to Book Recommendation? - How computers / processors work

1. What is a computer processor and how does it work?

A computer processor, also known as a central processing unit (CPU), is the brain of a computer. It is responsible for executing instructions and performing calculations. It works by receiving instructions from the computer's memory, processing them, and then sending the results back to memory. This process is repeated millions of times per second, allowing the computer to perform complex tasks.

2. What are the main components of a computer processor?

A computer processor is made up of several components, including the arithmetic logic unit (ALU), control unit, and registers. The ALU is responsible for performing mathematical and logical operations, while the control unit coordinates the flow of data within the processor. Registers are small storage units that store data and instructions temporarily while they are being processed.

3. How do processors differ from one another?

Processors can differ in several ways, including their clock speed, number of cores, and cache size. The clock speed refers to the number of instructions a processor can execute per second, with higher clock speeds resulting in faster processing. The number of cores determines how many tasks a processor can handle simultaneously, and the cache size affects how quickly data can be accessed from memory.

4. How have processors evolved over time?

Processors have evolved significantly since their inception. The first processors were single-core and had low clock speeds, but advancements in technology have led to the development of multi-core processors with much higher clock speeds. Additionally, processors have become smaller and more energy efficient, allowing for the creation of smaller and more powerful devices.

5. What are some potential future developments in processor technology?

Some potential future developments in processor technology include the use of quantum computing, which utilizes the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations at an unprecedented speed. Another possibility is the use of neuromorphic processors, which mimic the structure and function of the human brain and could lead to more efficient and intelligent computing systems.

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