Multiprocessor Operating Systems

Multiprocessor Operating Systems

An increasingly general way to get major-league computing power is to connect multiple CPUs into a single system. Depending on exactly how they are attached and what is shared, these systems are called parallel computers, multicomputers, or multiprocessors. They require special operating systems, but usually these are variations on the server operating systems, with special characteristics for communication, connectivity, and consistency.

With the recent arrival of multicore chips for personal computers, even conventional desktop and notebook operating systems are starting to deal with at least small-scale multiprocessors and the number of cores is expected to grow over time. Luckily, quite a bit is known about multiprocessor operating systems from years of previous research, so using this knowledge in multicore systems should not be hard. The hard part will be having applications make use of all this computing power. Many popular operating systems, including Windows and Linux, run on multiprocessors.

Personal Computer Operating Systems

The next kind is the personal computer operating system. Modern ones all support multiprogramming, usually with dozens of programs started up at boot time. Their job is to give good support to a single user. They are extensively used for word processing, spreadsheets, and Internet access. Common examples are Linux, FreeBSD, Windows Vista, and the Macintosh operating system. Personal computer operating systems are so commonly known that perhaps little introduction is required. In reality, many people are not even aware that other kinds are present.


multicore chips, personal computer, multicomputers