TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Books
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:10
Column Tag:Book Reviews

Scanlin on Books

By Mike Scanlin, Mountain View, CA

POWER and PowerPC

By Weiss and Smith

Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc. 1994.

ISBN 1-55860-279-8.

408 pages (hardback).

If you are working on learning PowerPC assembly language, and you want a good, solid technical information that gives you both a base to start with and a reference to return to once you’ve started going, POWER and PowerPC delivers both. It is a very complete look at the POWER and PowerPC architectures and contains information that would be of interest to anyone who really wants to delve into PowerPC 601 programming.

The book covers three main areas: (1) the POWER architecture, (2) the first two POWER implementations, the POWER1 and POWER2, used by IBM in the RS/6000, and (3) the PowerPC architecture and PowerPC 601 implementation. There are other areas which are interesting but which probably aren’t as important to most Macintosh programmers, including: A comparison of the POWER and PowerPC architectures, a comparison of the PowerPC 601 and DEC Alpha 21064, and the IEEE 754 Floating-Point standard.

The best part of this book, in my Mac-centric opinion, are Chapters 7-9, which describe the 601 in detail. It starts off with a discussion of the instruction formats and goes on to show how some of the less-obvious instructions work (like rotate with mask). It then goes on to explain the 601’s pipelines, branch processing and caches. Within each of these discussions the examples are clearly illustrated with sample code fragments. You’ll be able to see where and why pipeline stalls occur (and what you can do to avoid them in some cases), how to optimize your branches and exactly how the combined instruction and data cache works. Understanding these issues is a key part of being able to optimize for the 601 when you need to (in addition to helping you identify why certain code fragments run slower than you would expect).

This book is not a tutorial on how to program in PowerPC assembly language. It is, however, one of those rare technical books that is a pleasure to read for all the right reasons: the examples are clear, the examples are worth studying, the authors know their stuff and, it’s presented in a neatly typeset and illustrated manner. I would recommend it to self-motivated people who want to start learning PowerPC assembly language programming or to anyone working in a high-level language who wants to know more about their underlying processor.

Zen of Code Optimization

By Michael Abrash

The Coriolis Group, Inc. 1994.

ISBN 1-883577-03-9.

449 pages (soft cover, w/disk).

The guru who so many years ago brought us The Zen of Assembly Language has returned. He has now released a new and improved version of the ideas and examples contained in that sacred volume. And he has added new tricks for the latest Intel processors, the 486 and the Pentium.

Now, you are probably asking yourself “Why would I care about a bunch of optimization tricks on Intel processors when I’m a Mac fanatic?” The answer is because there is something for everyone in this book. Even if you ignore all of the Intel assembly code he presents (there is no 68K code at all) you can’t help but be impressed with the methodology he used to determine the optimal instructions as well as the clear (and often times humorous) explanations of the finer points of assembly language programming. Mr. Abrash has a Zen-like understanding of the Intel processors and the environments they live in. He is also a gifted writer who can make an otherwise dry topic come to life. Even though I have personally vowed never to write Intel assembly code, I thoroughly enjoyed both his former Zen book and this latest one.

The author sums up the book’s essence rather well, “This book is the diary of a personal passion, my quest for ways to write the fastest possible software for IBM-compatible computers in C, C++, and assembly language. ... it is a journal of my exploration of the flexible mind in action (with, to be sure, a generous leavening of potent low-level optimization tricks).” This book is the summary of years of effort studying the subtle behavior of Intel processors. And most of it is presented in easy-to-read, story-like prose that is both fun to read and very educational.

The book starts off by giving us the Zen Timer; a little piece of code used throughout that gives you the most precise timings possible of your Intel code fragments. After all, you have to be able to measure your code accurately to know if your latest change really improved things or not.

The next couple of chapters teach you various low-level things you need to know to really optimize for the Intel processors, such as: the prefetch queue cycle-eater, dynamic RAM refresh cycle-eater, and the display adapter cycle-eater. The interaction of these cycle-eaters leads to some surprising results (like you can’t trust the instruction times in the Intel manuals).

Once the basics are understood (and the reader has accepted “assume nothing; time everything”) the book proceeds to apply that knowledge to some real-world problems. In particular, the Boyer-Moore string searching algorithm is studied and optimized. There are many examples of peephole optimizations (like fast multiplication by 5 or 9 with the LEA instruction). There are examples given on how to manipulate common data structures efficiently, such as linked lists.

The last few chapters are devoted to the Pentium. In addition to showing you how many of the 386 and 486 tricks (taught in earlier chapters) will break on the Pentium, there is an in-depth discussion of the Pentium and it’s U-pipe and V-pipe and how to keep them both full most of the time. Sadly, like the 68K family, it is not possible to simultaneously optimize for all members of the Intel family.

As an optimizing assembly language programmer, I found it refreshing to find someone who is both a true master at assembly language programming and at the same time capable of making all the right trade-offs when coding in mixed C and assembly. I would recommend Zen of Code Optimization as a 10 on a scale of 10 if you are working on any Intel processor and I would give it an 8 out of 10 for anyone working on the Macintosh who is interested in writing high performance code.

JPEG: Still Image Data Compression Standard

By Pennebaker and Mitchell

Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1993.

ISBN 0-442-01272-1.

638 pages (hardback).

Ever wonder how those color painting programs manage to store 10MB of pixels in a 1MB file? Well, most of them use JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) image compression. If you’ve ever wanted to know how it works, or implement it yourself, then JPEG: Still Image Data Compression Standard is the book for you.

Written by two members of the JPEG standard committee, this book gives many of the hows and whys of JPEG that are not in the official JPEG specification (which is given in an appendix). There is a good chance that this book will tell you more than you really want to know about JPEG. It contains a LOT of information.

The book is written for everyone, from non-technical people to programmers to mathematicians. But don’t let the inclusion of some non-technical info dissuade you - there is more technical and mathematical info here than you probably care to read. Each section is marked with one of three “technical difficulty” symbols: one for non-technical readers, one for people with intermediate technical skills and one for people with advanced technical skills who are either going to implement a JPEG engine or else just like hard math problems.

The beginning of the book goes over some basic imaging concepts for the uninitiated (such as low-pass filters and the difference between luminance and chrominance). It then introduces you to the Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) that is the heart of JPEG. This discussion is very complete and certainly makes it clear how both one dimensional and two dimensional DCTs work (with good illustrations and examples). It also explains some of the ‘blocking’ effects you sometimes see with JPEG images.

After the DCT, the book goes on to explain the various JPEG modes of operation (sequential, progressive, lossless and hierarchical) and the syntax of the JPEG data stream. If you’ve read the spec and not been clear on any of those things then this book’s discussion of them will clear them up for you (it certainly did for me).

Once you’ve run your image data through the DCT and quantized it, the last step of JPEG is to entropy encode the quantized values. JPEG allows two methods of entropy encoding: Huffman or arithmetic. The book spends ample time on both methods (several chapters, in fact, including one on probability estimation) and, depending on how much you like math, you’ll come away either really confused or really understanding how it works. (The explanations are clear, but it’s difficult material.)

The last part of the book gives comparisons of performance for the different kinds of JPEG compression, a list of JPEG applications and vendors, a history of JPEG, possible future directions of JPEG and a discussion of non-JPEG compression standards (JBIG, MPEG, fax).

This book is as complete as you could possibly want on the subject of JPEG image compression. It is a must-read for JPEG implementors and recommended reading for those people who like to understand how common algorithms work or who want to know more about imaging algorithms in general.

 
AAPL
$102.99
Apple Inc.
+0.52
MSFT
$44.38
Microsoft Corpora
-0.50
GOOG
$532.71
Google Inc.
+6.17

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Evernote 5.6.2 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
OmniOutliner 4.1.3 - Organize your ideas...
OmniOutliner is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
BBEdit 11.0 - Powerful text and HTML edi...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
Apple Security Update 2014-005 - For OS...
Apple Security Update is recommended for all users and improves the security of Mac OS X. For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website: http://support.apple.com/... Read more
EyeTV 3.6.6 - Watch and record TV on you...
EyeTV brings a rich TV experience to your Mac. Watch live TV on your Mac. Pause, rewind, and record whenever you want. EyeTV gives you powerful control over what you watch and how you watch it. Put... Read more
RapidWeaver 6.0 - Create template-based...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
NTFS 12.0.39 - Provides full read and wr...
Paragon NTFS breaks down the barriers between Windows and OS X. Paragon NTFS effectively solves the communication problems between the Mac system and NTFS, providing full read and write access to... Read more
RestoreMeNot 2.0.3 - Disable window rest...
RestoreMeNot provides a simple way to disable the window restoration for individual applications so that you can fine-tune this behavior to suit your needs. Please note that RestoreMeNot is designed... Read more
Command-C 1.1.5 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Macgo Blu-ray Player 2.10.9.1750 - Blu-r...
Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can bring you the most unforgettable Blu-ray experience on your Mac. Overview Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can satisfy just about every need you could possibly have in a Blu-ray... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Super Glyph Quest (Games)
Super Glyph Quest 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Adventure is back Questers! Combine elemental glyphs together to cast powerful spells and vanquish adorable monsters in... | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Travel to Northern Allansia’s perilous Icefinger Mountains to defeat the wicked Snow Witch in this... | Read more »
Star Warfare 2: Payback Review
Star Warfare 2: Payback Review By Blake Grundman on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: ONE-TRICK PONYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for Star Warfare 2’s free-firing fun to turn into... | Read more »
TinType by Hipstamatic (Photography)
TinType by Hipstamatic 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Create hauntingly beautiful, soul capturing portraits with TinType by Hipstamatic. Inspired by daguerreotypes,... | Read more »
The Latest Update for Heroes of Dragon A...
The Latest Update for Heroes of Dragon Age Introduces Daily PvE Challenges Posted by Ellis Spice on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Bee Brilliant Review
Bee Brilliant Review By Jennifer Allen on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: SAMEY MATCH-3Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Want even more Match-3 gaming and fancy a bee based twist? Bee Brilliant is that game. Don’t... | Read more »
A New Trailer has Been Revealed for Epic...
A New Trailer has Been Revealed for Epic of Kings Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Dead Mage Inc. has released a new, action-packed trailer for the upcoming Epic of Kings. | Read more »
Find the Line Review
Find the Line Review By Campbell Bird on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: INSLIDE THE LINESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Tease out beautiful line drawings in this unique, free-to-play puzzle game.   | Read more »
Things Get Magical in The Sims FreePlay...
Things Get Magical in The Sims FreePlay with a New Halloween Update Posted by Ellis Spice on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
The Silent Age Episode 2 Review
The Silent Age Episode 2 Review By Jennifer Allen on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: ROUNDING THINGS OFF NICELYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rounding off a great point and click adventure comes The Silent Age... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save with Best Buy’s College Student Deals
Take an additional $50 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through November 1st. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take advantage... Read more
iPad Air 2 & iPad mini 3 Best Tablets Yet...
The new iPads turned out to be pretty much everything I’d been hoping for and more than I’d expected.”More” particularly in terms of a drinking-from-a-firehose choice of models and configurations,... Read more
Drafts 4 Reinvents iOS Productivity App
N Richland Hills, Texas based Agile Tortoise has announced the release of Drafts 4 for iPhone and iPad. Drafts is a quick capture note taking app with flexible output actions. Drafts 4 scales from... Read more
AT&T accepting preorders for new iPads fo...
AT&T Wireless is accepting preorders for the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, cellular models, for $100 off MSRP with a 2-year service agreement: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi + Cellular: $529.99 - 64GB... Read more
Apple offering refurbished Mac Pros for up to...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2013 Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
Select MacBook Airs $100 off MSRP, free shipp...
B&H Photo has 2014 a couple of MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Strong iPhone, Mac And App Store Sales Drive...
Apple on Monday announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter ended September 27, 2014. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $42.1 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion... Read more
Apple Posts How-To For OS X Recovery
OS X 10.7 Lion and later include OS X Recovery. This feature includes all of the tools you need to reinstall OS X, repair your disk, and even restore from a Time Machine backup. OS X Recovery... Read more
Mac OS X Versions (Builds) Supported By Vario...
Apple Support has posted a handy resource explaining which Mac OS X versions (builds) originally shipped with or are available for your computer via retail discs, downloads, or Software Update. Apple... Read more

Jobs Board

Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.