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Distributed processing is a setup in which multiple individual central processing units (CPU) work on the same programs, functions or systems to provide more capability for a computer or other device.
Originally, conventional microprocessors involved just one CPU on a chip. As microprocessor engineering evolved, manufacturers discovered that to speed up processes, more than one processor could be combined on a single unit. Many modern processors involve a multi-core design, such as a quad-core design pioneered by companies like Intel, where four separate processors offer extremely high speeds for program execution and logic.
Distributed processing also can be used as a rough synonym for parallel processing, in which programs are made to run more quickly with multiple processors. With the strategy of including more than one processor on a microprocessor chip, hardware users also can string multiple computers together to implement parallel processing with applications known as distributed processing software.
The distributed processing concept goes along with Moore’s law, which posits that the number of transistors on an individual integrated circuit (IC) doubles every two years. As this theory has largely proven correct over the last four decades, engineering strategies like distributed processing also have added to the speed of logical devices for some amazing advances in the ability of computers to perform functional tasks.