Multiprocessor systems




Multiprocessor Systems

 Although single-processor systems are most common, multiprocessor systems (also known as parallel systems or tightly coupled systems) are growing in importance. Such systems have two or more processors in close communication, sharing the computer bus and sometimes the clock, memory, and peripheral devices.

Multiprocessor systems

Multiprocessor systems have three main advantages:

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  1. Increased throughput. By increasing the number of processors, we expect to get more work done in less time. The speed-up ratio with N processors is not N, however; rather, it is less than N. When multiple processors cooperate on a task, a certain amount of overhead is incurred in keeping all the parts working correctly. This overhead, plus contention for shared resources, lowers the expected gain from additional processors. Similarly, N programmers working closely together do not produce N times the amount of work a single programmer would produce.
  2. Economy of scale. Multiprocessor systems can cost less than equivalent multiple single-processor systems, because they can share peripherals, mass storage, and power supplies. If several programs operate on the same set of data, it is cheaper to store those data on one disk and to have all the processors share them than to have many computers with local disks and many copies of the data.
  3. Increased reliability. If functions can be distributed properly among several processors, then the failure of one processor will not halt the system, only slow it down. If we have ten processors and one fails, then each of the remaining nine processors can pick up a share of the work of the failed processor. Thus, the entire system runs only 10 percent slower, rather than failing altogether.

Increased reliability of a computer system is crucial in many applications. The ability to continue providing service proportional to the level of surviving hardware is called graceful degradation. Some systems go beyond graceful degradation and are called fault tolerant, because they can suffer a failure of any single component and still continue operation. Note that fault tolerance requires a mechanism to allow the failure to be detected, diagnosed, and, if possible, corrected. The HP Non Stop system (formerly Tandem) system uses both hardware and software duplication to ensure continued operation despite faults. The system consists of multiple pairs of CPUs, working in lockstep. Both processors in the pair execute each instruction and compare the results. If the results differ, then one CPU of the pair is at fault, and both are halted. The process that was being executed is then moved to another pair of CPUs, and the instruction that failed is restarted. This solution is expensive, since it involves special hardware and considerable hardware duplication.

 The multiple-processor systems in use today are of two types. Some systems use asymmetric multiprocessing, in which each processor is assigned a specific task. A master processor controls the system; the other processors either look to the master for instruction or have predefined tasks. This scheme defines a master-slave relationship. The master processor schedules and allocates work to the slave processors.

The most common systems use symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), in which each processor performs all tasks within the operating system. SMP means that all processors are peers; no master-slave relationship exists between processors. An example of the SMP system is Solaris, a commercial version of UNIX designed by Sun Microsystems. A Solaris system can be configured to employ dozens of processors, all running Solaris. The benefit of this model is that many processes

We must carefully control I/O to ensure that the data reach the appropriate processor. Also, since the CPUs are separate, one may be sitting idle while another is overloaded, resulting in inefficiencies. These inefficiencies can be avoided if the processors share certain data structures. A multiprocessor system of this form will allow processes and resources—such as memory—to be shared dynamically among the various processors and can lower the variance among the processors. Such a system must be written carefully, as we shall see in Chapter 6. Virtually all modern operating systems—including Windows, Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux—now provide support for SMP.

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 The difference between symmetric and asymmetric multiprocessing may result from either hardware or software. Special hardware can differentiate the multiple processors, or the software can be written to allow only one master and multiple slaves. For instance, Sun's operating system SunOS Version 4 provided asymmetric multiprocessing, whereas Version 5 (Solaris) is symmetric on the same hardware.

A recent trend in CPU design is to include multiple compute cores on a single chip. In essence, these are multiprocessor chips. Two-way chips are becoming mainstream, while N-way chips are going to be common in high-end systems. Aside from architectural considerations such as cache, memory, and bus contention, these multi-core CPUs look to the operating system just as N standard processors.

Lastly, blade servers are a recent development in which multiple processor boards, I/O boards, and networking boards are placed in the same chassis. The difference between these and traditional multiprocessor systems is that each blade-processor board boots independently and runs its own operating system. Some blade-server boards are multiprocessor as well, which blurs the lines between types of computers. In essence, those servers consist of multiple independent multiprocessor systems.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: A batch system executes jobs, whereas a time-shared system has user programs, or tasks. Even on a single-user system such as Microsoft Windows, a user may be able to run several programs at one time: a word processor, a web browser, and an e-mail package. Even if the user can execute only one program at a time, the operating system may need to suppoft its own internal programmed activities, such as memory management. view more..
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Ans: System Calls and Programs All the present-day operating systems support the following two modes of operation for the CPU: User mode Kernel mode view more..
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Ans: the idea was to combine the best functionalities of all old approaches and hence this design is termed as the hybrid structured operating system. view more..
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Ans: Multiprocessing is the use of two or more central processing units (CPUs) within a single computer system. The term also refers to the ability of a system to support more than one processor or the ability to allocate tasks between them. view more..
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Ans: Process scheduling selects processes from the queue and loads them into memory for execution. Process loads into the memory for CPU scheduling. The primary objective of the job scheduler is to provide a balanced mix of jobs, such as I/O bound and processor bound. ... Time-sharing operating systems have no long term scheduler. view more..
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Ans: Inter process communication (IPC) is a mechanism which allows processes to communicate each other and synchronize their actions. The communication between these processes can be seen as a method of co-operation between them. Processes can communicate with each other using these two ways: Shared Memory. Message passing. view more..
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Ans: Direct memory access (DMA) is a method that allows an input/output (I/O) device to send or receive data directly to or from the main memory, bypassing the CPU to speed up memory operations. The process is managed by a chip known as a DMA controller (DMAC) view more..
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Ans: An instruction cycle (sometimes called a fetch–decode–execute cycle) is the basic operational process of a computer. It is the process by which a computer retrieves a program instruction from its memory, determines what actions the instruction dictates, and carries out those actions. view more..
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Ans: System programs provide a convenient environment for program development and execution. Some of them are simply user interfaces to system calls; others are considerably more complex view more..
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Ans: After an operating system is generated, it must be made available for use by the hardware. But how does the hardware know where the kernel is or how to load that kernel? The procedure of starting a computer by loading the kernel is known as booting the system. view more..
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Ans: A system as large and complex as a modern operating system must be engineered carefully if it is to function properly and be modified easily. A common approach is to partition the task into small components rather than have one monolithic system. Each of these modules should be a well-defined portion of the system, with carefully defined inputs, outputs, and functions. view more..
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Ans: System calls provide an interface to the services made available by an operating system. These calls are generally available as routines written in C and C++, although certain low-level tasks (for example, tasks where hardware must be accessed directly), may need to be written using assembly-language instructions. view more..
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Ans: Before we can explore the details of how computer systems operate, we need a general knowledge of the structure of a computer system. In this section, we look at several parts of this structure to round out our background knowledge. view more..
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Ans: It is possible to design, code, and implement an operating system specifically for one machine at one site. More commonly, however, operating systems are designed to run on any of a class of machines at a variety of sites with a variety of peripheral configurations. The system must then be configured or generated for each specific computer site, a process sometimes known as system generation (SYSGEN). The operating system is normally distributed on disk or CD-ROM. To generate a system, we use a special program. The SYSGEN program reads from a given file, or asks the operator of the system for information concerning the specific configuration of the hardware system, or probes the hardware directly to determine what components are there. view more..
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Ans: A question that arises in discussing operating systems involves what to call all the CPU activities. A batch system executes jobs, whereas a time-shared system has user programs, or tasks. Even on a single-user system such as Microsoft Windows, a user may be able to run several programs at one time: a word processor, a web browser, and an e-mail package. Even if the user can execute only one program at a time, the operating system may need to support its own internal programmed activities, such as memory management. In many respects, all these activities are similar, so we call all of them processes. The terms job and process are used almost interchangeably in this text. Although we personally prefer the term process, much of operating-system theory and terminology was developed during a time when the major activity of operating systems was job processing. It would be misleading to avoid the use of commonly accepted terms that include the word job (such as job scheduling) simply because process has superseded job. view more..
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Ans: An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs. view more..
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Ans: The processes in most systems can execute concurrently, and they may be created and deleted dynamically. Thus, these systems must provide a mechanism for process creation and termination. we explore the mechanisms involved in creating processes and illustrate process creation on UNIX and Windows systems view more..
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Ans: A thread is a basic unit of CPU utilization; it comprises a thread ID, a program counter, a register set, and a stack. It shares with other threads belonging to the same process its code section, data section, and other operating-system resources, such as open files and signals. A traditional (or heavyweight) process has a single thread of control.If a process has multiple threads of control, it can perform more than one task at a time view more..




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