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Why Dual Processors are better
Date: Tuesday October 10, 2000
Category: Beginners Guides Author: Max Page
Manufacture: none Turn Tech Glossary On Print Article Mail Article
Increasing computer efficiency drives people to do many things, and one of the most common is doubling-up, or tripling-up, or even quadrupling-up, on processors.
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Why two processors are better than one

Increasing computer efficiency drives people to do many things, and one of the most common is doubling-up, or tripling-up, or even quadrupling-up, on processors. The processor works at high speeds to perform the basic tasks that are central to using your computer. It processes your instructions to do things like open programs, copy files, and make all those blinky lights move around on your monitor.

Processors rely on two unique sources of memory in order to hang onto certain pieces of data while processing others. The first level of memory is the processor's register. The register is to the processor what the RAM is to the computer as a whole; it stores information that is currently being worked with. A secondary source of storage space is known as the cache. There are generally two caches that processors can draw from, and while neither of them is as fast at retrieving data as the register, they are both substantially speedier than the computer's RAM or hard drive (even deeper memory-sources that the processor can tap).

If your processor is responsible for so many of your computer's functions, wouldn't it make sense to install more than one of them? Well, yes and no. More than one processor, or a multiprocessor, if you will, can up your speed, but it also ups your need for auxilliary hardware. This, in turn, ups your cost. So whether you should consider multiprocessing really depends on how you use your PC.

Most people who use their PC as a PC -- as a personal computer, with the stress on the personal -- have no need to multiprocess. Multiprocessing is most commonly used in environments where unwieldy databases are being employed, or where complex graphics are being developed, or where high-traffic internet servers are needed. However, it can't hurt to go through some of the basics of multiprocessing just to get a handle on the multiplicity of your computing options.

For a start, there is more than one way to go about multiprocessing. Symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) involves two or more processors attached to the same RAM and hard drive. In SMP, the same processing task gets divided equally among different processors. Another method is called asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), and it also shares RAM and system resources among more than one processor. The difference here has to do with the tasks the different processors effect. In AMP, one processor handles applications while the other runs system tasks. Massively parallel processing (MPP) does away with shared resources. In MPP systems, each processor uses its own RAM and system bus. This means neither processor has to wait to access the system bus or the RAM, allowing all processors to optimize their performance speeds.


Page 2: Implementing multiprocessors

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