Principles of Computer Hardware (fourth edition)

Alan Clements

Publisher Oxford University Press
ISBN 978-0-19-927313-3
RRP £34.99
Reviewed by Dr Barry Blundell
Score 8 out of 10

Principles of Computer Hardware The fourth edition of this classic textbook continues to encompass the range of topics that comprise a typical introductory university level course in computer hardware. As with the previous edition the author writes with great clarity, and conveys both his expertise and enthusiasm for the subject.

In the preamble, the author indicates the use of a ‘breadth before depth’ approach and indeed the book moves at a rapid pace. Topics are given a sound treatment, but overly detailed discussion is avoided. The relevant mathematics is presented in such a way that even less mathematically inclined students should find it straightforward and approachable.

The first chapter provides background discussion and emphasises the relevance of the subject to today's computer science students. Subsequent chapters cover standard topics such as digital electronics, computer arithmetic, computer architecture, peripheral devices, computer performance issues, the operating system, and computer communications.

The Motorola 68000 processor is widely examined, both in terms of its architecture and instruction set. The author maintains a good balance between theoretical and practical discussion.

The main body of the book is around 600 pages in length, and it is good to see that the author has not followed the path taken by others producing similar works, where each new edition has an ever more formidable page count. Even at its current size, however, it is unlikely that average students could assimilate all this material in a single one-term course.

On the other hand sections are often self-contained, so that some topics could be omitted and the order of presentation easily rearranged in order to best suit course requirements, and teaching preferences.

In this new edition, two colours are used for the presentation of text and artwork. This not only makes the book more visually attractive but enhances the clarity of discussion. Self-contained text boxes provide additional content and highlight key material. As with the previous edition, the diagrams are crisp and well designed.

The price of the book compares favourably with equivalent texts. Overall, this is a great choice for adoption in an introductory hardware course in computer science and related disciplines.

Further information: Oxford University Press