Difference between serial and parallel processing



What is serial processing

A processing in which one task is completed at a time and all the tasks are run by the processor in a sequence. In real time example, people standing in a queue and waiting for a railway ticket. In this case, one person can get a ticket at a time. Suppose there are two queues of people and one cashier is handling both the queues then one person can get a ticket at a time from both queues. Similarly, processor get lists of tasks and each task is completed at a time and all other tasks wait till the first one completes. This type of processing is also known as sequential processing.

Example of serial processing operating system

Any operating system running on the single processor is an example of the serial operating system. Note that one processor complete one task at a given time and other tasks wait in a queue. In an operating system, there may be running multiple programs and each program has multiple tasks running. In this case, all tasks of the different programs are sent to the processor through registers and processed sequentially. Pentium 3 and Pentium 4 are serial processing computers. Windows 95 and Windows 98 are examples of operating systems which do the serial processing.

Sequential vs parallel
Sequential vs parallel

What is parallel processing

A type of processing in which multiple tasks are completed at a time by different processors. Note that in parallel processing there is more than one processor involved. In real time example, there are multiple queues of people standing to get railway tickets. In this case, each queue is handled by multiple people, so multiple people will get tickets at a time. Similarly, in the operating system, there are multiple queues of tasks and multiple tasks are completed by different processors at a time.

Example of parallel processing operating system

An operating system running on the multicore processor is an example of the parallel operating system. Windows 7, 8, 10 are examples of operating systems which do parallel processing. In today life all latest operating systems support parallel processing.

Serial vs parallel processing

  1. In serial processing, same tasks are completed at the same time but in parallel processing completion time may vary.
  2. In sequential processing, the load is high on single core processor and processor heats up quickly.
  3. In serial processing data transfers in bit by bit form while In parallel processing data transfers in byte form i.e. in 8 bits form
  4. Parallel processor is costly as compared to serial processor
  5. Serial processing takes more time than parallel processor

Let me give a pictorial overview of sequential and parrel processing.

Sequential processing vs parallel processing
Sequential processing vs parallel processing

Suppose MS Word program is running on your computer. This program may have several tasks running inside it. First Task1 of the program is given to CPU and get processed then Task2 get processed. Note that processing goes in a sequential way. Now suppose you have multicore processor then, in this case, one task given to each processor(CPU) and all three tasks get processed simultaneously at a given time. This type of processing is called parallel processing.


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Difference between serial and parallel processing

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