You asked us: PC--Dual Processor Advantage

by Alan Zisman (c) 2000. First published in Toronto Computes, February 2000

Xiangmin Wang wrote:

I finally decide to get rid of my old Pentium-75 PC, and to buy a new Pentium III one. After reading through the advertisements I noticed that for about the same amount of money, I might be able to buy a computer with two Intel Celeron CPUs. I am just wondering whether you have done any test to see whether a dual Celeron-400 computer can out perform a Pentium III-500 computer. As a computer amateur, I am writing to ask you about the advantages of dual-CPU PCs and whether they are good alternatives for the real expensive PCs with the newest CPUs.

Alan Zisman replied:

The advantage-- when everything else is equal, dual processor systems can provide better performance by allowing each CPU to give full power to a single task.

The disadvantage: everything else is generally not equal. For instance-- While Windows NT/Windows 2000 supports dual processors, Windows 95/98 does not. And not all software or hardware peripherals supports NT/2000. If you want or need to use Win95/98, you need a single processor computer.

As well, your applications need to be written to support multiple processors... Adobe PhotoShop does-- but most don't.

Multiple processor computers are a real plus for network servers, or for graphics artists spending most of their day running PhotoShop under NT. For the rest of us, their time has not yet come.

Rick Gordon wondered:

I currently have a system that runs Win98, has a 4gig HD and uses 16bit file allocation tables.  Can I safely convert the 16bit FAT to 32bit?  The systems owner doesn't want to lose anything but she is very tired of the slow HD access....

Alan Zisman answered:

FAT16, under Win9x has a 2 gig limit... how is the 4 gig HD set up? Are there two partitions? If not, then it is probably already using FAT32-- it's typically installed by default these days on drives larger than 2 gigs.

You can check the file system type by opening My Computer, right-clicking on the C: drive, and choosing PROPERTIES from the popup menu. If it identifies the drive as FAT, then it's FAT16-- if it says FAT32, then you know you already are using this file system.

If it's FAT16 you should be able to convert it to FAT32 without problem using the Win98 conversion utility... but what makes you think this will speed up drive access?

Have you tried running Defrag on the drive? On my system, it cut the time needed to load Microsoft Word in half.

Mike Klassen pondered:

I jut added one line to my Autoexec.bat file as it said to do when I installed Turbo Pascal 6.0, but now when I boot it says it can't find I haveto go c:\windows\ to start windows, do you see what's wrong with Autoexec.bat?


Alan Zisman suggested:

Installing the old DOS Turbo Pascal has caused problems with your newer Windows installation. Here's what happens-- Win9x, by default, sets a path statement...
C:\Windows;C:\Windows\Command. This tells programs to automatically look in these two folders to find what they?re looking for.

The first path related line in your Autoexec file:


adds itself to the existing Path-- that's what the %Path% does... the next line, the one you added:


However, doesn't add itself to the existing path (no '%PATH% at the beginning), but REPLACES it with the TP folder name... as a result, Windows is unable to locate unless you explicitly tell it where to look.

You could add the TP folders to the end of the first line, making it look like this:


OR you could edit the second line like this:


Either should solve your problem. Who says DOS is dead?

Michael Toy asked:

I purchased Windows 98 SE recently. When I tried to install it, a window came up telling me I needed the upgrade version. Since I opened the box, I can't return the software. Is there a way around my problem using this software?

Alan Zisman responded:

How did you purchase a non-upgrade version? Generally, these are much more expensive retail, or are supposedly limited to OEMs for pre-installation on new hardware.

In any event, try this to trick your copy of Win98SE?it also works with other Windows versions:

Boot to a DOS prompt, making sure that you can access your CD-ROM drive... if you can't access your CD-ROM, you'll need to copy the installation folder (typically named WIN98 or something similar) to your hard drive from Win95/98... from the DOS prompt, type the following:

C: (if you booted to a DOS floppy)

switch to the CD (or installation folder) and run SETUP.

The OEM installation checks for the existence of WIN.COM... when it doesn't find it, it will be happy-- and will proceed to upgrade your existing installation, respecting your current settings and installed software, just as the upgrade version does.

Note that many Win98SE users are reporting problems shutting down-- Microsoft has posted a discussion of this, including a patch, but in many cases, it can be cured by turning off the Fast Shutdown option.

Personally, I see little need to upgrade either W98 or W95B (or later) systems to Win98SE, unless you want to use SE's Internet Connection Sharing option.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan