A computer's central processing unit, or CPU, is essentially the brain of the computer; it is used to process data and access applications. The faster a CPU is, the better a computer will perform. Some computers are built so that CPUs can be replaced or enhanced with additional processors.
Any time a processor is added, upgraded, or changed, the most important issue is to make sure that the CPU is compatible with the motherboard.
CPU's have different configurations. If a CPU is going to be changed or upgraded, it must match the socket type and front-side bus of the motherboard or it will not work. If the socket does not match, the CPU may not even fit into the motherboard.
The front-side bus is the speed at which the CPU access the RAM. In cases where the CPU and the motherboard do not have compatible front-side bus speeds, the computer may not work optimally or at all.
If the new CPU does not match the motherboard, then either the motherboard must be changed out as well, or the CPU must be exchanged for one that matches the motherboard.
Adding a Second CPU
A second CPU can be added to an existing system only if there is an extra CPU slot on the motherboard. If not, there is no way to add a second processor without also changing the motherboard.
If the motherboard supports dual-processor operations, the second CPU should match the original CPU in all specifications to ensure proper operation. Once the second CPU is added, it may be necessary to change settings in the operating system in order for the second processor to be detected and supported.
An alternative to having a dual-processor computer is to have a dual-core processor computer. A dual-core processor is a single processor unit that acts and performs the same as two processors. The benefits of a dual-core is that only one socket is needed and performance can sometimes be greatly increased. In addition, the cost of adding a dual-core unit may be less than setting up a dual-processor system. In order to upgrade to a dual-core processor, though, the motherboard must still be comptible with it.
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