Every digital device—be it a personal computer, a cellular telephone, or a network router—is based on a set of chips designed to store and process information. Although these chips come in different shapes and forms, they are all made from the same building blocks: Elementary logic gates. The gates can be physically implemented in many different materials and fabrication technologies, but their logical behavior is consistent across all computers. In this chapter we start out with one primitive logic gate—Nand—and build all the other logic gates from it. The result is a rather standard set of gates, which will be later used to construct our computer’s processing and storage chips. This will be done in chapters 2 and 3, respectively. All the hardware chapters in the book, beginning with this one, have the same structure. Each chapter focuses on a well-defined task, designed to construct or integrate a certain family of chips. The prerequisite knowledge needed to approach this task is provided in a brief Background section. The next section provides a complete Specification of the chips’ abstractions, namely, the various services that they should deliver, one way or another. Having presented the what, a subsequent Implementation section proposes guidelines and hints about how the chips can be actually implemented. A Perspective section rounds up the chapter with concluding comments about important topics that were left out from the discussion. Each chapter ends with a technical Project section. This section gives step-by-step instructions for actually building the chips on a personal computer, using the hardware simulator supplied with the book. This being the first hardware chapter in the book, the Background section is somewhat lengthy, featuring a special section on hardware description and simulation tools.
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