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Introduction to the Systems Approach

1.1 SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE: AN OVERVIEW

The past 40 years have seen amazing advances in silicon technology and resulting increases in transistor density and performance. In 1966, Fairchild Semiconductor [84] introduced a quad two input NAND gate with about 10 transistors on a die. In 2008, the Intel quad-core Itanium processor has 2 billion transistors [226]. Figures 1.1 and 1.2 show the unrelenting advance in improving transistor density and the corresponding decrease in device cost.

Figure 1.1 The increasing transistor density on a silicon die.

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Figure 1.2 The decrease of transistor cost over the years.

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The aim of this book is to present an approach for computer system design that exploits this enormous transistor density. In part, this is a direct extension of studies in computer architecture and design. However, it is also a study of system architecture and design.

About 50 years ago, a seminal text, Systems Engineering—An Introduction to the Design of Large-Scale Systems [111], appeared. As the authors, H.H. Goode and R.E. Machol, pointed out, the system’s view of engineering was created by a need to deal with complexity. As then, our ability to deal with complex design problems is greatly enhanced by computer-based tools.

A system-on-chip (SOC) ...

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