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SMP (symmetric multiprocessing)

SMP lets multiple CPUs in a networking device share the same board, memory, I/O and operating system. Nonetheless, each CPU in an SMP system can act independently. While one CPU handles a database lookup, others can update the database and perform other tasks, dramatically increasing the ability of the device to handle today's increasingly complex networking tasks.

SMP costs relatively little. When scaling from one CPU to two, only one processor board is needed. Processing power is doubled without paying for additional support chips and without taking up an additional slot in the chassis.

Despite its benefits, SMP can only scale so far. Bottlenecks can occur when several CPUs on a board share a single memory bus. Rather than put too many CPUs on the same SMP board, designers of high-end network elements can distribute applications across a networked cluster of SMP boards, where each board has its own memory array, I/O and operating system.

This approach has its challenges. For instance, network managers have to add network-specific code to applications so they can "talk" to each other across the networked boards. Also, because drivers and protocols in most operating systems are bound to the kernel, moving any of them from one board to another means you have to create and carefully test a new kernel image for each board.

From SMP boosts scalability for net elements, Network World Tech Update, 10/29/01.


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SMP (Symmetric multiprocessing)
by Elizabeth Jane

Very good length and level of content for my inquiry, and so that I got the meaning without the commercial hype - Apple sites are very prevalent on this subject but say very little and use a lot of space to say it. However I would still like to know what the benefits are in terms of use value - Apple sites highlight its value for graphics applications especially, which is to be expected, but not obvious, as cards can supply additional graphics support. What else would we find them useful for? (I think SETI would find them useful.)

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