UNIX(R) Systems for Modern Architectures: Symmetric Multiprocessing and Caching for Kernel Programmers

Author: Curt Schimmel
List Price: $64.99
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ISBN: 0201633388
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Pub Co (30 June, 1994)
Edition: Hardcover
Sales Rank: 84,741
Average Customer Rating: 4.71 out of 5

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Customer Reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5
Great Book for Linux Kernel People
I recently started working on the Linux kernel and found myself
perplexed by the multiprocessor code I found. After asking
around, a number of the more experienced Linux kernel developers
recommended this book. It's excellent! It taught me everything
I needed to know to get my work done. Plus there's the added
bonus that this book thoroughly covers cache architecture and its
interaction with the operating system. I highly recommend this
book to anyone working on the Linux kernel. It has far more depth and detail on multiprocessing and cache management than any
of the Linux books I've seen. And it's the only book I've ever
seen that so thoroughly explains the hardware involved in caches
and multiprocessors and their effects on the operating system in
a way that's easy to understand.

Rating: 3 out of 5
What's there is good, but...
In many ways this is a great book. The subject is one that is known to induce headaches, and the author covers it with truly admirable clarity. It's worth buying the book for the chapter on cache consistency alone; like many others, I had to spend years piecing the same information together from varied sources, and it would be hard to overstate the value of having it all in one place.

So why only three stars? The problem is that the book is incomplete. Cache systems and virtual-memory systems interact in myriad ways, but you wouldn't know that from reading this book. Similarly, storage and networking subsystems are often the bloodiest battlegrounds with respect to multiprocessor synchronization, and yet special considerations in those areas are not covered. Many old architectures (e.g. Apollo, ELXSI) are mentioned, and yet NUMA never even gets a nod. I know that covering all of these topics in any kind of depth would be impossible in a single book of any reasonable length, but their *total* omission is something I consider unacceptable.

This is a book I would recommend without hesitation to any number of people. Unfortunately, that recommendation would always have to be accompanied by recommendations for other books that pick up where this one inexplicably leaves off.

Rating: 5 out of 5
THE book if you are a kernel/threading developer.
I work on MP SVR4 kernels and this book is where I got most of my basics on MP from. I didn't understand the contents all at once - especially the initial intro to memory models in chapter 8, but after reading the SPARC specs (V8 & V9) and chapter 13, I can see how all this is relevant.

If you are porting a unix or any OS for that matter to todays architectures, this book should help clear up what issues you would encounter and how best to solve them. For example the memory models and consistency guarantees of the source architecture and how they compare to the destination.

And ofcourse its a great aid to understanding any contemporary OS' kernel code.


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