View Full Version : microprocessor digital logic

04-29-2008, 12:32 AM
I have a friend who is interested in how a microprocessor logic works down at the bit level. He has been working through logic adders etc, and is wondering if there is a good book on binary logic constructs. Well over my head, but I figured some of you might know of a good book on the subject. Recognizing that this is probably a few years worth of study, and he has no intention of actually trying to make his own, just more of an intellectual run.

Suggestions ?

04-29-2008, 12:56 AM
The book you want is "The Digital I/O Handbook" by Jon Titus and Tom O'Haanlan. The book is published by Sealevel Systems, Inc. in 2004 (ISBN 09759994-0-0). The cost is $19.95.


Paul Baker
04-29-2008, 06:18 AM
Some companies provide the digital logic used in thier 74XX series of chips within the datasheet, while the information isn't collected into a single tome, the information is free.

Paul Baker (mailto:pbaker@parallax.com)
Propeller Applications Engineer
[/url][url=http://www.parallax.com] (http://www.parallax.com)
Parallax, Inc. (http://www.parallax.com)

Brian L
04-29-2008, 08:42 AM
A favorite of mine that I first heard of on this forum is called "How Computers Do Math" by Clive Maxfield & Alvin Brown. It's available on Amazon.com and comes with software you install on the PC which simulates a simple computer that you then have to learn to program in machine language to make it behave as a calculator. It's more education for less money than any computer book I ever bought. Plus, once you've created some software for the thing, it has the potential to be the worlds best programmable calculator for the PC. You can make it serve all kinds of special calculating purposes, and it completely beats the crap out of that crummy Calculator program that comes bundled in Windows, assuming of course, that you'll create software that gives it some useful functions. It can't even recognize what it's own buttons mean until you write the software that makes it work, so it's really up to you to follow the book and make it run. The software is also available for free download but I don't think the book is. The book is written for beginners too. It's very easy to understand. A smart high school kid could follow it, and it was well worth the 20 bucks or so that it cost me.

04-29-2008, 08:56 AM
I don't now if the book can be bought separately, but "Basic electronics Part II" that comes with the 101 electronics lab by "Forrest M. Mims III" is a wonderful laymans approach to digital logic.
Part I is analog!

04-29-2008, 11:13 AM
Adam Osborne used to publish a series of books on micros. The volume 0 (a very short book on basic digital logic) and volume 1 would pretty much tell you what you need to know to build your own micro. If you want a free logic simulator to try your hand at designing digital logic, download the development software from one of the FPGA vendors and simulate to your hearts content.


04-30-2008, 07:23 PM
I have a pile a foot high of books just for this purpose.

I've heard many good things about Understanding Digital Computers, by Forrest Mims III. I haven't got a copy of my own, though. What I've found is most modern books spend too much time on VHDL or other hardware description languages, when you really want to start looking at how things work at a lower level. As such, I went to a fantastic second hand book store and bought a number of older books on digital design - from the late 70's to early 80's. The basics haven't changed much since then, and they focus more on the lower levels simply because that's what was used in those days.

If your friend would rather learn by wiring chips together, I've found the data sheet repository at Hans Summer's website invaluable. The TTL and CMOS daughter page is particularly helpful!

www.hanssummers.com/electronics/datasheets/index.htm (http://www.hanssummers.com/electronics/datasheets/index.htm)

04-30-2008, 08:37 PM
I've been working on this myself, and finding good (and approachable) information can be difficult (perhaps obscure is a better term). However, I've found a number of good books and sites that might make it easier for your friend.

Here's a list of books and resources that have helped me

"Lessons in Electric Circuits" by Tony R. Kuphaldt (http://openbookproject.net/electricCircuits/). One of the best books (and free no less) on basic electronics I've found. There's a book on digital logic here, and though I haven't read it yet, if it's as good as the DC electronics book, it should be an excellent resource for picking up the basics.

"How Computers Do Math", by Clive Maxfield and Alvin Brown (https://www.diycalculator.com). I second the recommendation on this book. It's an excellent primer on assembly programming and low-level computer internals.

"The Elements of Computing Systems", by Noam Nisan and Shimon Schocken (http://www1.idc.ac.il/tecs/). I just got this from Amazon yesterday, and it looks fantastic. The book is designed to take you through building a complete computer system (emulated on your PC with HDL) from gate logic to OS design. By the end you have a working system that runs Tetris.

"Digital Design and Computer Architecture", by David Harris and Sarah Harris. Another fantastic book, but rigorous in its depth. This one covers everything you need to know to do basic processor design. It finishes off by building a MIPS processor. Also, all the designs have verilog and VHDL examples (side-by-side) which is a nice bonus.

The Mico-KIM computer @ http://www.brielcomputers.com. Vince Briel redesigned and packaged the Kim-1 computer (from 1976) in a kit that you can put together. Programming on this machine really solidified my understanding of memory concepts. The only thing that stands between you and memory is 6 7-segment LEDs and a hex keypad (great fun! There's nothing like hand assembling opcodes to ML =).

The Mach64 @ http://www.xgamestation.com. Andre' LeMothe did it again with this fun CPDL learning kit. I'm still going through the projects, but this is a great introduction to programmable hardware, and a good stepping stone to FPGAs. As a side effect, the Mach64 board doubles as a general purpose CPLD programmer (a nice touch by Andre').

OpenCores Website @ http://www.opencores.org. This is THE site for open Source FPGA processors. There's a couple of minimal designs for beginners here also.

FPGA Arcade @ http://home.freeuk.com/fpgaarcade/index.htm. Downloadable FPGA processors that emulate arcade games. This is just a fun site to see what's possible with FPGAs, and you can get a full VIC-20 soft core (among others. And, yes, I'm a geek =).


I hope this helps.


There's nothing to see down here. Move along...

Fred Hawkins
05-01-2008, 06:03 AM
How about Field-Programmable Gate Arrays? I'm pretty certain that your friend could get into low end FPGAs for about $50. Then he could do what he wants in flash memory; erase and go again...

For example, from Altera's secondary dev kit list, a $50 system: http://www.terasic.com.tw/cgi-bin/page/archive.pl?Language=English&CategoryNo=39&No=215

Post Edited (Fred Hawkins) : 4/30/2008 11:09:30 PM GMT

05-01-2008, 08:46 AM
Larry Gonick's "The Cartoon Guide to the Computer" it a bit dated, but eventually gets down to logic gates. If you can pick up a copy cheap it might be worth a look.

05-01-2008, 08:29 PM
Wow. Thanks. I've passed them along. I went ahead and got the "How computers do math" myself. Figured it can't hurt.

Thanks again

05-01-2008, 08:44 PM
bambino said...
I don't now if the book can be bought separately, but "Basic electronics Part II" that comes with the 101 electronics lab by "Forrest M. Mims III" is a wonderful laymans approach to digital logic.

I can't thank Forrest M. Mims enough for his help getting me started when I was young... His approach and unique 'lab note' style still serves as references today. Great stuff.

On topic, I'd also suggest Googling around the web for 'cpu simulator'... You'll find a lot of java examples showing simple cpu's in action.

You might also check out this awesome 'relay computer' and it's associated documentation, which covers many of those principles... If I ever find the cash to buy a 1000 surplus relays, this is what I'd do too ;)

Post Edited (Agent420) : 5/1/2008 1:51:08 PM GMT