The Undocumented PC: A Programmer's Guide to I/O, CPUs, and Fixed Memory Areas (2nd Edition)

Author: Frank van Gilluwe
List Price: $54.99
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ISBN: 0201479508
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Pub Co (13 December, 1996)
Edition: Paperback
Sales Rank: 34,522
Average Customer Rating: 4.67 out of 5

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Customer Reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5
A little dated, but still great for 16-bit development
This is a great book, or I should say WAS a great book. While the information is still 100% applicable if you are still writing code for a 16-bit operating system (DOS), or writing your own operating system, much of the information becomes somewhat useless when applied to 32-bit operating systems (Windows 2000, Linux).

Still, when writing low-level code it is still a useful reference, one of the few out there.

Gilluwe includes source code samples, and is one of the most comprehensive books on the PC architecture.

Unfortunately, this book is now somewhat dated. The BIOS is no longer the de-facto method of controlling the hardware, and is a big headache under 32 bit protected operating systems (Linux, Windows 2000, etc). Newer features, like PCI configuration space, NVRAM, BIOS 32 directory services, DMI and SMBIOS are not covered.


Rating: 5 out of 5
The definitive guide for legacy PC system info
This is the most thorough technical book I've ever read, on a subject only glanced at in other books. You will find every detail about legacy PC hardware and low-level programming for these systems in this book, and it is well organized for low-level system programmers.

PC hardware areas are each given a chapter with an introduction explaining the history and workings of the physical hardware, followed by interrupt and port programming details. There are also chapters devoted solely to the interrupt vector table and BIOS data areas that list all software services, and refer to the other chapters for more details...you can get a good overview of a particular area of PC hardware, or you can just as easily find the particulars of any interrupt service, port usage or BIOS data area entry. Invaluable for low-level programmers!


Rating: 5 out of 5
Excellent for low-level programming
This book provides excellent information on hardware ports, CMOS, disk and video systems. It explains the differences between versions, lists known bugs and workarounds and even comes with functioning code examples. Some of the programming leaves a little to be desired, though. :) But if you're a good assembly programmer you'll understand it.

Overall it is an excellent book and a must have for anyone wanting direct hardware-level access (without the save-haven "buffer" provided through an API). This book is for real programmers only. Programmers who want to work at the machine level. It is, quite simply, the most comprehensive book I've found. A one-stop shop for information.

The only problem I found is that this book is slightly dated, originally published in 1996 or 1997. Newer features are not included.

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