Parallel processing in geography

Ian Turton

This chapter is about parallel processing, or parallel computing; the terms are
used synonymously. It will focus on ways to produce real applications not
computer science abstractions. It will start out by describing what parallel
computing is and why as a geographer you should even care. It will then give a
brief historical overview of supercomputing and the rise of parallel computers. It
will then attempt to set out what parallel computing is good for and what it is not
good for and then finish up by showing you how you might get started with
parallel computing.

What is parallel computing?
Parallel processing at its simplest is making use of more than one central
processing unit at the same time to allow you to complete a long computational
task more quickly. This should not be confused with so called multitasking
where a single processor gives the appearance of working on more than one task
by splitting its time between programs; if both the programs are computationally
intensive then it will take more than twice the time for them to complete, nor are
we concerned here with specialized processors (e.g. graphics controllers or disk
managers) that work in parallel with a processor. read more

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