Dual CPU Orientation

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Thinking about setting up a dual CPU system...let HRC's newest contributor, and MCSE certificate holder, Mark Orlando give you some friendly advice.

It seems that we live in a world where more is better. Why have one when you can have two? Why one car, one house, or even one woman for that matter, when you can have more? Well, Iím not here to tell you that less is more, but more is more. However, there are some things you should know before you get started on your journey to dual heaven. I must tell you that two is not always better than one. Now before you start cursing me out under your breath, let me explain. Adding a second processor to your rig isnít going to make it twice as fast, but it will make it faster. As a rule of thumb, you will usually get better performance from one really fast CPU than a couple of mediocre ones. One reason that adding a second CPU wonít make your PC twice as good is the fact that the majority of the programs that are out there arenít designed to take advantage of the second processor, but you will still have that second processor free to do something else. Plus, some of the professional audio programs, like Sonar, are capable of using both.

Before you start anything, you should really figure out what you want, what you have, and then weigh your options to see if youíre on the right track. For example, you might be planning on building a nice shiny, dual CPU rig and popping your sound card and hard drive in and Voila! Your machine wonít boot! As a matter a fact, never think your just going to replace your motherboard and everything is ok. Thatís not going to happen. I personally recommend backing up your stuff to disk or CD and then re-partitioning and re-formatting your hard drive. Then install a fresh new copy of the OS and all your latest drivers. You first have to evaluate what the main function of you PC is and what it isnít. If itís main purpose is to be the heart of your digital music creation empire, then figure out what sound card and software you want to use, and what platform your comfortable with. Platform what? I mean make sure all of your hardware and software are compatible. I will break this down a little further to help illustrate my point.

Processor, Chipset, and OS

A chipset is a set of chips, bridges, and pathways that are integrated on your motherboard that your PC uses. Itís how your motherboard is designed to support your processor and how that processor, and other components that are integrated into the board, exchange information and work together. The chipset is designed to support a specific processor. AMD and Intel are the major players in this game right now (processor not chipset game) and if your going to be using the PC platform (A Windows Operating System), then you more than likely will be using an AMD or Intel CPU and supporting chipset. However, there are OSes other than Windows that you can use on your PC (Linux, BeOS, DOS, etc.), but these are the minority and I wonít be covering them. The chipset is the first thing you have to be sure supports SMP or Symmetric Multi-Processing, because itís hard to add a second CPU if thereís no where to put it. Secondly, the OS, or version of Windows for example, needs to be capable of using SMP as well. Windows 95, 98, ME, and XP home addition, are NOT SMP capable OSes. That means if you wanna go dual you gotta go Windows NT, 2000, or XP Pro. I would go with Windows 2000 until more of the kinks are worked out with XP. This goes back to what I stated before. Always make sure that the hardware you intend on purchasing or using is supported on whatever platform (OS) you will be using. I just read a post last week that one of dB Masters' loyal subscribers was ready to go for two when he discovered that Echo doesnít support his particular card on the Windows NT, 2000, or XP Pro. Platforms. Which means that he has to buy a new sound card or lose functionality of his second CPU. I donít need to tell you how bad that SUCKS!

I Got The Gear Now What?

So you just got your new PC running Windows 2000. You installed all the latest drivers for your sound card and everythingís peachy keen. However, you check the system information only to discover that you are only using one processor. What? But I know I put the second one in there, didnít I? Yes, you did, but in order to get use of the second processor you have to install the multi-processor version of the HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer). The HAL is the Windows sub-system that handles all of the hardware functionality. The HAL you want to use is called ACPI Multi-Processor. ACPI (Advanced Configuration Power Interface) is the power management system that your PC uses to do all that fun efficiency crap like turn your monitor off after you havenít used your PC for a while. To change your HAL isnít brain surgery. Right-Click on "My Computer". Click on the "Hardware" tab, and then "Device Manager". In Device Manager, click "Computer", and right-click "Advanced Configuration and Power Interface(ACPI) PC". Click on "Properties". Then click "Driver", and then "Update Driver". This will launch the "Update Device Driver wizard". Click "next", and "Display a list of the known drivers for this device so I can choose a specific driver", and click "next" again. Then make sure "(Standard Computer)" is selected under "Manufacturers:", and then click "ACPI Multiprocessor PC" under "Models:". Now click "next", "next", and "finish". Then click "Yes" to restart your PC and Presto! You have support for both CPUís! God Bless America! Itís Miller Time! Now only if you could save some money for that new set up; that I canít help you with.

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User-submitted comments

Jun 07, 2003 04:07 pm
Dual Processors
When folks like this choose to speak, as far as I
am concerned this person is E F HUTTON
I am now looking for more such reading, I am contemplating an upgrade but much research is
in order. THANKS to the author

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