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Parallel Processing

 

A computer which uses more than one processor, either to be able to perform more than one task at the same time or to improve processing speed by breaking down one larger task between different processors. Parallel processing is not quite the same as 'Multi-tasking' since, by definition, a single processor cannot do two things at once. It just seems that way to the user because the two things are handled one after the other so very quickly.

A typical organisation/business server will employ at least two and often four processors within the same machine. Although they may appear identical from the outside, dual processor (and better) systems are not aimed at the domestic, home user, market. Generally they demand specifically written application software and are not suitable for games/entertainment use. This feature alone makes them more attractive to companies.

Some very large systems can employ huge numbers of processors - hundreds or more - and, naturally are extremely powerful (approaching the SuperComputer class). Such systems are generally described as being 'Massively Parallel'.

Parallel processing has considerable advantages fro companies with Mission Critical applications - but it comes at a price.


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