Chapter01Rev06 - Chapter 1 (Revision number 6) Introduction...

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Chapter 1 (Revision number 6) Introduction There is an excitement when you talk to high school students about computers. There is a sense of mystery as to what is “inside the box” that makes the computer do such things as play video games with cool graphics, play music be it rap or symphony, send instant messages to friends, and so on. The purpose behind this textbook is to take the journey together to unravel the mystery of what is “inside the box.” As a glimpse of what is to come, let us say at the outset that what makes the box interesting is not just the hardware but also how the hardware and the system software work in tandem to make it all happen. Therefore, the path we take in this book is to look at hardware and software together to see how one helps the other and together make the box interesting and useful. Hence this is a textbook for a first course in computer systems . 1.1 What is Inside a Box? Figure 1.1 What’s in the box? There is a processor (called the central processing unit or CPU), the memory subsystem, all the various peripherals (such as the keyboard, monitor, mouse, disk, and DVD player), and the network interface that allows you to connect the box to the outside world. Then there is the system software (such as the operating system and compiler) that allows you to do what you want to do at the application level. 1
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1.2 Levels of Abstraction in a Computer System Figure 1.2 A Video Game To make this concrete, let us consider a multi-player video game. You have had experience in programming so you can imagine the software architecture for developing such an application. The software architecture may consist of multiple (distributed) clients and a (logically) central server all interconnected by a local area network. Clearly, the program is going to be written in some High Level Language (HLL). The CPU of course does not understand anything other than machine language, so a compiler has to translate the HLL program to the instruction-set understood by the processor so that the programs can be run on the processor hardware. Now let us look at the processor bottom up. At the lowest level of the abstraction
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This note was uploaded on 11/25/2010 for the course CENG 100 taught by Professor Ceng during the Spring '10 term at Universidad Europea de Madrid.

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Chapter01Rev06 - Chapter 1 (Revision number 6) Introduction...

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