April 2013 Archive


Processors
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Processors

The "brain" of the computer is the CPU. It brings instructions from memory and carries out them. The fundamental cycle of every CPU is to bring the first instruction from memory, interpret it to decide its type and operands, execute it, and then bring, decode, and carry out

Multithreaded and Multicore Chips
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Multithreaded and Multicore Chips

According to Moore's law, the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months. This "law" is not like any law of physics, like conservation of momentum, but is an observation by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore of how fast process engineers at the semiconductor companies

Memory
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Memory

The second major element in any computer is the memory. Preferably, a memory should be very fast (faster than executing an instruction so the CPU is not held up by the memory), abundantly large, and dirt cheap. No current technology satisfies all of these goals

Disks
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Disks

Next in the hierarchy is magnetic disk (hard disk). Disk storage is two orders of magnitude cheaper than RAM per bit and often two orders of magnitude larger as well. The only problem is that the time to randomly

Tapes
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Tapes

The last layer in the memory hierarchy is magnetic tape. This medium is frequently used as a backup for disk storage and for holding very large data sets. To access a tape, it must first be put into a tape reader, either by a person or a robot (automated tape handling is

I/O Devices
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I/O Devices

The CPU and memory are not the only resources that the operating system must deal with. I/O devices also interact heavily with the operating system. As we saw in COMPUTER HARDWARE REVIEW figure, I/O devices are normally made of two parts: a controller and

Buses
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Buses

The organization of "COMPUTER HARDWARE REVIEW" figure was used on minicomputers for years and also on the original IBM PC. Though, as processors and memories got faster, the ability of a single bus (and certainly the IBM PC bus) to handle all the traffic was constrained

Booting the Computer
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Booting the Computer

Very shortly, the Pentium boot process is as follows. Every Pentium includes a parentboard (previously called a motherboard before political correctness hit the computer industry). On the parentboard is a program called the system BIOS (Basic Input Output System). The

THE OPERATING SYSTEM ZOO
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THE OPERATING SYSTEM ZOO

Operating systems have been around now for over half a century. During this time, quite a variety of them have been developed, not all of them broadly known. In this section we will

Multiprocessor Operating Systems
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Multiprocessor Operating Systems

An increasingly general way to get major-league computing power is to connect multiple CPUs into a single system. Depending on exactly how they are attached and what is shared,

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