Two books
Wednesday, October 01, 2003 01:27 PM

I'm on the last chapters of High-Performance Computer Architecture by Harold S. Stone, which describes and quantifies many different techniques for increasing the performance of computer systems. As a software programmer with only enthusiast-level knowledge of machine and systems architecture, I found find this book to be a challenging but enjoyable (and very worthwhile) read. If you're interested in the latest processors to come out of Intel, AMD, and IBM labs, but don't know what terms like "superscalar execution" or "8-way set associative cache" mean; or are curious about the difference between big Cray supercomputers and today's desktops; or wonder why 16-processor servers cost much more than 16 times a single-processor server; this book will answer those questions and more.

One thing about the book is that it's somewhat dated: the edition I read was ©1987. However, the principles and techniques taught in the book are still very relevant today. I really enjoyed this book and I imagine most hardcore programmers would too.

I've also just purchased Programming Language Pragmatics by Michael L. Scott, and I can't wait to get started on it. It's a very large and imposing volume that seems to give a pretty comprehensive treatment of the design and implementation of programming languages. Parsing techniques, type systems, variable scoping, instruction-level optimization, it's all in here. There's also a chapter on functional and declarative languages that should be interesting.

Hopefully I can keep my brain from exploding.