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Keywords: Micro-processors, Intel, x86, Pentium

Title: The Unabridged Pentium 4

Author: Tom Shanley / MindShare, Inc

Publisher: Addison Wesley

ISBN: 032124656X

Media: Book, CD

Verdict: A major reference work for engineers and systems programmers

Books don't often come as big as this, and that's big in every sense of the word. Weighing in at a massive 1649 pages (not including the 80+ pages of the detailed table of contents), there are also another 16 chapters on the accompanying CD. If you want to know something, anything, about the Intel IA32 processor family it's here or it's probably not worth knowing.

Organised into 12 sections, the book explores the genealogy of the Pentium family of processors, from the 386 to the 486, Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium II and right on through to the Pentium 4 and Pentium M group of CPUs. The book does begin with some more general material, including a look at single and multi-tasking operating systems and the problems that multi-tasking imposes.

As should be clear by now this is very much a reference manual for electronic engineers, designers of embedded system, compiler writers and so on. The coverage of material is extensive, both in breadth and depth. The technical content is such that this really isn't a book to sit down and read from cover to cover, no matter how fascinating you find the inner workings of complex micro-processors.

Credit should go not only to the author, Tom Shanley, but also to Bob Colwell, one of Intel's chief architects of the IA32 family and the technical editor for this book. There can be no arguing with his comment:

This is the book Intel should have written, but now they don't have to.

The book is well-designed, with plenty of cross-references and aids to help the reader navigate to the material that they are interested in. This is a great resource but one with a niche appeal. If you are in that niche then there really is no place else to get some of this information, not even Intel.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2004. Published October 21 2004