What Is Multiprocessing? - Definition, Architecture & Examples

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  • 0:00 Types of Computer Processing
  • 1:48 Multiprocessing Capabilities
  • 2:38 Multiprocessing Architecture
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha is currently an Information Technology Specialist and a EdD student at the University of Delaware.

Multiprocessing is the capability of a computer to multitask, or execute more than one program or process at the same time. In this lesson, we will learn about computers and their multiprocessing abilities.

Types of Computer Processing

Zoey was a retired accountant with a home accounting business. One day, her old laptop stopped working, and she had to get a new one to continue to work on her client's projects. She stopped by a computer store close to her home to figure out her options.

In the store, Zoey was surprised to see all the newer computers with features that her five-year-old laptop did not have. Zoey wanted a computer that was fast and allowed her to run different applications at the same time. The sales professional, Jane, showed Zoey laptops with dual-core and quad-core processors. Zoey learned that a laptop with a dual-core processor will be twice as fast as a computer with a single processor. And a quad-core processor will be four times as fast as a computer with a single processor. Computers with more than one processor are called multiprocessors.

Zoey was not quite sure what a processor was. So Jane explained to Zoey that a processor was a small electronic device inside the computer, similar to the human brain; it processes instructions that it receives, analyzes the instructions, and acts to satisfy the instructions and produce desired results or actions.

Zoey was fascinated by the explanation and wanted a demonstration. Jane took Zoey over to one of the display laptops and asked Jane to take her time and work with it to see how she liked it. Zoey opened many different programs, including a word processor, spreadsheets, and accounting software. Zoey was excited to notice that even the time to open each program was much faster compared to her old laptop! One of the reasons that the laptop was so fast was because it had a dual-core processor (we'll discuss cores in more detail later in the lesson). Of all the components of a computer, a processor is what makes the computer work slower or faster.

Multiprocessing Capabilities

Jane went on to explain that a computer with a dual-core processor will have two processing units - it's kind of like having two brains! So when a task is given to the computer, both processors share the task, and the task is completed much faster than with a single processor. This is called multiprocessing.

As an example, Jane explained, when Zoey has an accounting application and spreadsheet open at the same time, one processor will continue to work on the accounting software while the second processor will work on the spreadsheet computations. Since both processors are working side by side and in parallel, both tasks will get completed within a shorter time. It's like if you're helping out in the kitchen - you get the pans ready for baking while a friend beats the eggs, butter, and flour for the cake. This way, as soon as the batter is ready, it can be poured into the prepared pans and no time is lost.

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