The layout of the VP6 is very well thought out. Abit really took the time to design a layout that not only fits the needs of its users but also adds comfort and convenience. The power supply is in a great position away from anything major so it doesn't conflict with any air flow or anything. The processors are spaced out nicely away from capacitors that could potentially interfere with an oversized heatsink. That was my major gripe about the BP6, the space around the CPUs was very small and if you had a large heatsink, which I did, you run the risk of damaging the mobo, which I did... Everything else is pretty much where it's usually located. You'll notice the 4 DIMM slots there right next to a CPU socket. Although I didn't have trouble installing my Alphas in there, you might have to leave the bank closest to the socket empty when installing a HSF. It's close and if you have big fingers, you might accidentally put pressure on the memory chip. The placement of the IDE channels is normal but might pose a problem if you have a really tall case. The floppy connector is to the bottom a bit, so you may need a longer cable, but I doubt it'll be a problem for the majority of us. However, since this motherboard is meant to be used in server cases, it might have been better to move the IDE channels and floppy connector a bit higher up. At least just to ensure that problems won't occur with the taller server cases out there. The board also boasts a power LED located at the bottom of the board near the switch and case LED headers. With the VP6 being a dual system and all, the northbridge is bound to get hot, so Abit decided to mount a heatsink on there. Of course you can pop that sucker out and add your own with a fan in there if you feel compelled to. So the layout is pretty trouble free. I don't see anything that really strikes me as out of place.
2 Processors Are Better Than One
As most people probably guessed, having 2 processors in a system is better than having just 1. However, it's not just a straightforward doubling of processor speed here. Meaning, 2 1 Ghz processors does not equal 2 Ghz performance. If you're already familiar with the SMP concept then move along, but those that are new to this whole scene, let me give you a quick overview. SMP or Symmetric Multi-Processing, is when you use two or more processors to process information in parallel. The performance increase over a single processor is analogous to that of a cash register line at a super market. If you have only one register open, you begin to build up a line of customers. The line moves only as fast as the one register can process each customer. Let's assume that each register processes a customer at the exact same speed. If we add another register, we can process 2 customers at once now. So if the cash registers represented CPUs and customers represented operations that needed to be processed, adding additional CPUs will allow you to handle more applications at any given time. This will increase the throughput of the system but not necessarily the response time since the execution of each individual application is only as fast as one CPU can process. You must be using an OS that is SMP capable and can recognize more than one processor. Windows 98/SE and ME don't support multiple processors so you're best bet is Windows NT or 2000. You can also use other SMP capable OSes out there like Linux and BeOS. It's up to you but remember that to get that performance edge, the OS must be SMP capable.
The OS is basically in charge of distributing processes to the individual CPUs. In Windows NT and 2000, the HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) takes care of this. If one processor is already doing work then send the process to the other one if it's free. This load balancing is what translates into a virtual performance boost. You might think your applications are running faster, but that's because normally they would have to fight for just one CPU. However, you're not utilizing the full potential of a dual processor system just yet. Each application is still running basically on a single process which is just going back and forth between the 2 CPUs. To really harness the power of the system, the application must be tuned to utilize the 2 processors. The application must break up it's workload into multiple processes so that both CPUs can process work for the application at the same time. By making the instructions more parallel, the application could theoretically run twice as fast, which actually follows what you would initially believe. Mostly only high-end apps really support SMP, like graphics applications, Photoshop, 3DStudio MAX, and server applications as well. Since your everyday Joe isn't going to own a dual processor system, regular software developers aren't going to put SMP capability into their code. The only game I know of that can "use" SMP is Quake 3, and their implementation is pitiful at best. The frame rates are actually lower than a single processor system. If you only use Microsoft Office, then a dual system might not be for you. Although that really depends whether you run lots of things all at once too. The reason I prefer SMP systems is because I love opening up dozens of browser windows plus other applications all at once. You can pretty much handle twice as many things running at the same time.
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