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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OmniGraffle Pro 7.2.2 - Create diagrams,...
OmniGraffle Pro helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use... Read more
OmniGraffle 7.2.2 - Create diagrams, flo...
OmniGraffle helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use Graffle to... Read more
Spotify 1.0.44.100. - Stream music, crea...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
Microsoft OneNote 15.29 - Free digital n...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
WALTR 2 2.0.8 - $39.95
WALTR 2 helps you wirelessly drag-and-drop any music, ringtones, videos, PDF, and ePub files onto your iPhone, iPad, or iPod without iTunes. It is the second major version of Softorino's critically-... Read more
Dropbox 16.3.27 - Cloud backup and synch...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keep them up-to-date between systems... Read more
EtreCheck 3.1.5 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.12 - Easy-to-use...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
VueScan 9.5.62 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
SpamSieve 2.9.27 - Robust spam filter fo...
SpamSieve is a robust spam filter for major email clients that uses powerful Bayesian spam filtering. SpamSieve understands what your spam looks like in order to block it all, but also learns what... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Track Santa with these three festive app...
Christmas is fast approaching and that means it's time to prepare for Santa's yearly pilgrimage around the globe. Christmas Eve is an exciting time as parents help their kids get ready to welcome Santa. You've got the cookies and milk all planned... | Read more »
Galaxy on Fire 3 and four other fantasti...
Galaxy on Fire 3 - Manticore brings the series back for another round of daring space battles. It's familiar territory for folks who are familiar with the franchise. If you've beaten the game and are looking to broaden your horizons, might we... | Read more »
The best apps for your holiday gift exch...
What's that, you say? You still haven't started your holiday shopping? Don't beat yourself up over it -- a lot of people have been putting it off, too. It's become easier and easier to procrastinate gift shopping thanks to a number of apps that... | Read more »
Toca Hair Salon 3 (Education)
Toca Hair Salon 3 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Winter comes to Darkwood as Seekers Note...
MyTona, based in the chilly Siberian city of Yakutsk, has brought a little festive fun to its hidden object game Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery. The Christmas update introduces some new inhabitants to players, and with them a chance to win plenty of... | Read more »
Bully: Anniversary Edition (Games)
Bully: Anniversary Edition 1.03.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.03.1 (iTunes) Description: *** PLEASE NOTE: This game is officially supported on the following devices: iPhone 5 and newer, iPod Touch... | Read more »
PINE GROVE (Games)
PINE GROVE 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A pine grove where there are no footsteps of people due to continuous missing cases. The case is still unsolved and nothing has... | Read more »
Niantic teases new Pokémon announcement...
After rumors started swirling yesterday, it turns out there is an official Pokémon GO update on its way. We’ll find out what’s in store for us and our growing Pokémon collections tomorrow during the Starbucks event, but Niantic will be revealing... | Read more »
3 reasons why Nicki Minaj: The Empire is...
Nicki Minaj is as business-savvy as she is musically talented and she’s proved that by launching her own game. Designed by Glu, purveyors of other fine celebrity games like cult favorite Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Nicki Minaj: The Empire launched... | Read more »
Clash of Clans is getting its own animat...
Riding on its unending wave of fame and success, Clash of Clans is getting an animated web series based on its Clash-A-Rama animated shorts.As opposed to the current shorts' 60 second run time, the new and improved Clash-A-Rama will be comprised of... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

New 2016 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sa...
B&H Photo the new 2016 Apple 13″ 2.9GHz/256GB Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/256GB Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on s...
B&H Photo has dropped their price on the 2016 Apple 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook (MLH82LL/A) to $1399 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’... Read more
Never Settle for Low Performing Wifi With iOS...
AppYogi Software has announced the release of WiFi Signal Strength Status App 1.0, the company’s new utility developed exclusively for macOS. WiFi Signal Strength Status App features a unique, single... Read more
New 2016 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros in st...
B&H Photo has stock of new 2016 Apple 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro models, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray: $1999 - 13″ 2.... Read more
New 2016 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock...
B&H Photo has new 2016 Apple 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro models in stock today including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray: $2799 - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more
DietSensor App Targeting Diabetes and Obesity...
DietSensor, Inc., a developer of smart food and nutrition applications designed to fight diabetes and obesity and help improve overall fitness, has announced the launch of its DietSensor app for... Read more
Holiday 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro sales...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1449 $... Read more
Holiday sale: Apple TVs for $51-$40 off MSRP,...
Best Buy has dropped their price on the 64GB Apple TV to $159.99 including free shipping. That’s $40 off MSRP. 32GB Apple TVs are on sale right now for $98 on Sams Club’s online store. That’s $51 off... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple refurbished, n...
Apple has restocked a full line of Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ Retina MacBooks, now available for $200-$260 off MSRP. Refurbished 2015 models are available starting at $929. Apple will include a... Read more
Holiday sale: 12-inch Retina MacBook for $100...
B&H has 12″ Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1199 $100... Read more

Jobs Board

Integration Technician, *Apple* - Zones, In...
…at Zones and for our customers each day. Position Overview The Apple Integration Technician will be responsible for performing customer specific configuration Read more
*Apple* Brand Ambassador (Macy's) - The...
…(T-ROC), is proud of its unprecedented relationship with our partner and client, APPLE ,in bringing amazing" APPLE ADVOCATES"to "non" Apple store locations. Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Trumbul...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
US- *Apple* Store Leader Program - Apple (Un...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.