The modern world offers lots of readily available online resources for learning. Wikipedia,
Google, news sources, millions of Web sites and blogs, even YouTube, offer access to
information in nearly any subject that triggers your curiosity and interest. Nonetheless, I
continue to believe that for deep understanding of something, nothing beats the integrated
approach and focus of an old-fashioned printed-on-paper textbook.
When I open a new book, in any subject, the first thing I want to know is what the
book has to offer that makes it worth my while to read it. I would like to try to help you
answer that question for the book that you’re holding in your hand.
The information systems and technology fields are wonderfully exciting places to be! It
seems as though every day brings new developments that alter the ways we create and work
with information. Of course, with this excitement comes a challenge. To be a successful
player in IS or IT we have to be adaptable and flexible.
Much of the change occurs around computer system technology. The computer is,
after all, at the foundation of information systems. A deep understanding of computer
systems is, therefore, an essential element of success. We must be able to understand each
new development, assess its value, and place it in the context of our knowledge of computer
The subjectof thisbookis the architectureof computer systems. Computer architecture
is about the structure and operation of digital computers. Computer architecture is
concerned with the operational methods of the hardware; with the services provided by
operating system software; with the acquisition, processing, storage, and output of data;
and with the interaction between computers.
There is a tendency for people in information systems and technology to neglect a study
of computer architecture. After all, the technology changes so rapidly—is it really worth
trying to understand something thatmay be out of date by the time I finish this book? There
is no question that computer technology has evolved rapidly. The computer in a personal
computer, or even in a cell phone or MP3 player is far more powerful than the mainframe
computer of twenty-five years ago, with memory, disk and flash storage capacity, display
and multimedia capability, and ease of use that would have been unthinkable just a few
years ago. Even more important, connecting systems to work together is now routine and