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Non-headphone Techie question

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Talking to my computer geek uncle the other week I asked him whether or nor it was possible to run multiple CPU's inside the same computer. My reasoning is this: I have two PIIs and a plain old Pentium in the house that are used essentially as glorified typewriters at the moment. I want to run them all together with my main computer, a P3. For example: One processor plays MP3's, while one runs the OS, while one runs a game.

My uncle told me that this was possible in his mind, but hadn't heard of anyone who had tried it. And it would probably only be possible using Linux.

Here are my questions:

1. Is this actually possible?
2. Would each CPU need it's own individual RAM?
3. Would the operating system treat them all as individual processor's or would it be required to "trick" the OS into treating them as one?
4. How easy/hard would this be to setup?
5. What other forums/sites would be more appropriate to be asking this?
6. What do you think?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts, they are indeed valuable things
post #2 of 12
You can do multi-processing, but only with the two pIIs. You can't mix pentiums and pIIs

You would need a special multi-processor board for that (expensive)

They would share the same memory

You can't trick the OS - either it supports multiple processors
or it doesn't. The OS is your friend in this case not your enemy.
Not every OS supports more than one processor. NT does.
95/98/ME(??) doesn't. Linux does.

Benefits might be okay to minimal to non-existing to
negative (!!) depending on programs/OS used

In your case I'd say it's not worth the effort.

Try anandtech

BTW: Why not having two seperate PIIs. One to play the music, the other one top play games. You wouldn't even need a monitor for the 'second' machine, since you could administer it over Ethernet
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
thanks for the great (and quick) response.

I was just wondering if you (or anyone) could elaborate as to why the benefits would be so minimal?

Ethernet route: I will most likely go that way. I even have an extra ethernet card kicking about
post #4 of 12
Instead of trying to make something elaborate out of old parts, why not just spend the money on building a new box? You could make a nice new Athlon DDR system on the cheap.
post #5 of 12
Gorgon_123:

SMP systems are mainly for optimized programs. Eg. Photoshop, 3DSMax and various science and math programs. I've had an SMP machine before but I was running daemons and various processes for my network.

The RAM in an SMP system can be common you don't need to devote RAM to each processor. I don't think it's very useful for games because for example say you have a Dual PIII 600mhz most games will only utilize one processor. You'd only get the equivalent of a Single 600mhz processing power for that game.

As for running music etc... You really don't need a whole processor to run Winamp on my 1.2GHZ Athlon it uses less than 3% CPU utilization. It would just be a waste.

Also about "allocating" processors to specific tasks that's called changing CPU affinity. This is best left to Windows to handle as it if you allow a program to use both CPUs Windows will automatically try to calculate the most efficient usage of CPU time.

As RoyBoy said it would be a lot better to get an Athlon DDR Solution with today's current prices.

Athlon 1.4GHZ is $105, 256MB DDR Ram is $31

Also if you're really having problems with speed I found that if you're using ME try use http://www.98lite.net

See Tweakfiles.net for further enhancements...

Good luck

PS: http://www.2cpu.com/
post #6 of 12
Networking is the way to go. We have a 10/100 ethernet set up so we can use our work laptops at home and have access to a networked printer and a two dedicated servers, one for harddisk and Jaz storage and one as a music server and CD writer. The disk server is an old pentium (Win 98) and the music server is a PII (Win2000). Both laptops are PIII's(Win2000). I have a dual processor Pentium II Xeon machine at work running NT 4.0. The only thing the dual processors do really well for me is run large statistics problems and imaging work really zippy, quick.
post #7 of 12
Personally myself I utilize:
http://www.smoothwall.org/

This is a great package if you're looking for "Internet Connection Sharing" be it ADSL, ISDN, Modem, Cable or otherwise...

It runs on my 486 DX4 100 w/ 64MB of RAM perfectly. It's a great firewall/router package. My 486 currently serves 5 users and its load average is very low. Smoothwall even graphs out traffic and has some remote admin functionality.

Uptime + Load Average:
5:07pm up 33 days, 6:28, 7 users, load average: 0.00, 0.01, 0.00
post #8 of 12
I've got an SMP box as my main machine, and I think it's worth it, especially Photoshop (but then again I have 1024MB ram too). If you don't want to spend the money for an SMP motherboard you can set up a Beowulf cluster using Linux (where you link multiple machines together and they'll act as 'one'. However, for gaming you'd probably have to run an emulator (WINE and VMLinux come to mind) but since the state of windows-on-Linux is pretty much in alpha now the emus are very CPU inefficient.
post #9 of 12
beowolf cluster?
...for two machines.... to 'calculate' mp3s... hmm, I guess here's a good exapmle for negative benefits


Eric, that sounds like one hell of a machine you got there. Tell me more!

BTW: Do you use Photoshop that much? What for? Anything published yet?


Bye

Redwoood
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by Redwoood
[B]beowolf cluster?
...for two machines.... to 'calculate' mp3s... hmm, I guess here's a good exapmle for negative benefits
well, I was kinda thinking more for running emulators... Do clusters work that way? I'm no expert.

Quote:
Eric, that sounds like one hell of a machine you got there. Tell me more!
Well, since you asked:
Dual p3 600
1024 MB Ram
2 Ultra2/WIDE SCSI 17Gig hard drives
HP SureStore DAT40 Tape Drive
DVD drive
CDRW drive
Jaz drive
Floppy Drive
SoundBlaster Live Value Soundcard
APC BackUPS 650 Battery Backup
Gemplus GCR410 Smart Card Reader (cost $5 surplus)
Cambridge Soundworks DTT2500 Digital 5.1 Surround Speakers
MS Intellimouse Explorer (optical)
HP LaserJet 2100 TN Laser Printer
Epson Photo EX Printer
DSL line(640/256)
KOSS TD/70 Headphones
Handspring Visor
Palm IIIx
X10 MP3 Anywhere (with MouseRemote)
ATI All-In-Wonder 128 AGP
21" Flat CRT Monitor
Oh, and everything except the DVD drive is SCSI.

You want to know something *really* sad? It's running Windows 2000 and IS NOT SERVING UP ANYTHING!!! (it's being used mostly for gaming, which IMHO is a waste and a shame. But my dad won't let me install Linux on it (since he has to use it too!) and the DSL is metered)

Quote:
BTW: Do you use Photoshop that much? What for? Anything published yet?
No, Image Editing, and No. The reason I got it is because my dad needed a new computer (which his company would pay for) and asked me to design it for him. I of course designed my Dream Machine (and this was a year or two ago, hence the outdated processors and video card)...
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally posted by eric343

well, I was kinda thinking more for running emulators... Do clusters work that way? I'm no expert.
No, usually you use clusters (the poor man's supercomputers) to solve calculation-intensive problems.
But you have to be able to divide the problem into several subproblems (which you would solve on different machines)
that don't depend much on each other (or otherwise the overhead of the communication between the machines would kill any benefits you get from parallelizing).

Quote:
Well, since you asked:

[one really impressive features list omitted]
Pretty good. Must have been one hell of a computer 2 years ago.

And your dad's company paid for it... sweet.

Quote:
You want to know something *really* sad? It's running Windows 2000 and IS NOT SERVING UP ANYTHING!!! (it's being used mostly for gaming, which IMHO is a waste and a shame. But my dad won't let me install Linux on it (since he has to use it too!) and the DSL is metered)
Ah, it's not that bad. I'm using W2k myself and like it actually.
Linux is okay, but it's not the solution to all our problems either.
I use it when I write some program that has to run on
Unix, but otherwise I prefer W2k since Linux doesn't support my notebook as well.

Bye

Redwoood
post #12 of 12
Well, the tape drive and laser printer are new additions... But yeah, I like my box :-)
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