Shared memory versus distributed memory

Conceptually, parallel computing and distributed computing look very similar—after all, they both are about breaking up some computation into several smaller parts and running those on processors. Some of you might ponder upon the fact that in one case the processors in use are part of the same computer, whereas in the other case they are physically on different computers; is this just a trivial technicality?

The answer is maybe. As we saw, some applications are fundamentally distributed. Others simply need more performance than they can get on a single box. For some of these applications, the answer is maybe yes—it does not really matter where the processing power comes from. However, in all cases, the physical ...

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