Parallel Programming: Definition, Benefits and Industry Uses

Look at point 3. This was causing a huge problem in the computing industry as only one instruction was getting executed at any moment of time. This was a huge waste of hardware resources as only one part of the hardware will be running for particular instruction and of time. As problem statements were getting heavier and bulkier, so does the amount of time in execution of those statements. Examples of processors are Pentium 3 and Pentium 4.

Future of Parallel Computing: The computational graph has undergone a great transition from serial computing to parallel computing. Tech giant such as Intel has already taken a step towards parallel computing by employing multicore processors. Parallel computation will revolutionize the way computers work in the future, for the better good. With all the world connecting to each other even more than before, Parallel Computing does a better role in helping us stay that way. With faster networks, distributed systems, and multi-processor computers, it becomes even more necessary.

Introduction to Parallel Programming

Industries that use parallel programming

Many industries apply parallel programming to perform various functions. Diverse industries, including the sciences, engineering, research, industrial, commercial and retail fields, implement parallel computing programs to solve problems, processes data, create models and produce financial forecasts. In addition to industry uses, many personal computers also use this kind of programming to support everyday functions like running search engines or hosting video conferencing software. Some other examples of parallel processing uses in the real world include:

The widespread applications of parallel programming make it an increasingly essential function of modern computers.

What is parallel programming?

Parallel programming is a programming model that allows a computer to use multiple resources simultaneously to solve computational problems. While earlier versions of software programs followed a serial process, meaning they could only direct their resources to solve one problem at a time, parallel programming allows computers to process several problems at the same time. Most modern computers use this kind of programming, and it has extensive uses in various industries.

Limitations of parallel processing

Although parallel processing has many advantages, it also has limitations. Some of these limitations include:

Benefits of parallel programming

Here are the primary benefits of this type of programming:


A computer that uses parallel programming can make better use of its resources to process and solve problems. Most modern computers have hardware that includes multiple cores, threads or processors that allow them to run many processes at once and maximize their computing potential. When computers use all their resources to solve a problem or process information, they are more efficient at performing tasks.


Additionally, the hardware architecture that allows for parallel programming is more cost-effective than systems that only allow for serial processing. Although a parallel programming hardware system may require more parts than a serial processing system, they are more efficient at performing tasks. This means that they produce more results in less time than serial programs and hold more financial value over time.


Another benefit of parallel computing is its ability to solve complex problems. Parallel programs can divide complex problems down into smaller tasks and process these individual tasks simultaneously. By separating larger computational problems into smaller tasks and processing them at the same time, parallel processing allows computers to run faster.

Approaches to parallel processing

There are four different computer architectures that support parallel processing. Computer scientists define these models based on how they implement two factors: instruction streams and data streams. An instruction stream is an algorithm, which is a sequence of instructions that programs use to solve problems. A data stream is the information that a computer pulls from its memory storage. Computers use the algorithms provided by their instruction stream to process the data from their data stream and complete tasks.

Here are the four different computer models and how they use instruction and data streams for parallel processing:

Single instruction, single data (SISD)

This type of computer architecture on its own works as a sequential computer. It uses one processor and can only handle one algorithm with one data stream at a time. Since this computer can only perform one process at a time, its not capable of performing parallel computing unless its connected to another computer. A user can connect several SISD computers together in a network to perform parallel processing.

Many conventional personal computers still use SISD architecture. Since these computers often perform basic functions like connecting to the internet and running word processing software, they may not need the more advanced processing abilities of a specialized parallel processing computer. However, its becoming more common for personal computers to have more complicated architectures that allow parallel processing. This is because technological advances have expanded the functions that modern computer users expect from their devices. For example, streaming videos, hosting virtual conferences and playing video games on the computer works better with a more advanced processing system.

Multiple instruction, single data (MISD)

An MISD computer has multiple processors, and each works with a different algorithm. However, all of the processors for this computer use the same shared data stream. MISD computers can use different processors to perform multiple different computations of the same data at the same time. The number of computations it can perform at a time depends on the number of processors it contains.

These computers are relatively uncommon, but some industries might use them for highly specialized purposes. For example, aerospace engineers might use this type of architecture for a computer that manages the flight controls of space shuttles. In this application, the MISD computer processes the same set of data in multiple ways to create a fail-safe system that prevents computer errors, ensuring the controls always remain operational.

Single instruction, multiple data (SIMD)

SIMD models use multiple processors and multiple data streams but the same algorithm across each processor. This type of computer uses the same instructions to process different sets of data to obtain a result. A SIMD model can be useful for analyzing large data sets using the set of criteria but may have more limited applications for handling complex computational problems.

Some applications for this computer architecture include 3D modeling, image processing, speech recognition, video and sound applications and networking. Many modern computers include SIMD architecture for multimedia processing. These computers can run more complex processes than SISD computers, allowing them to host more vivid graphics, produce better sound quality, and stream videos and video conferencing software with fewer interruptions.

Multiple instruction, multiple data (MIMD)

A MIMD system uses multiple processors to run different instruction streams with input from different sets of data. Each processor in a MIMD can function independently from the others, which allows this type of architecture to run several processes at the same time. Although MIMD computers have more flexibility than SIMD or MISD systems, their complexity makes them more challenging to create and maintain.

Applications for this type of computer include computer-aided design and manufacturing, simulations, modeling and as communication switches, which is a device that connects other devices together in a network. Industries that use these computers most often include engineering and research. Scientists can use these computers to create models and process complex sets of data. For example, a meteorologist might use this kind of computer to track the development of a hurricane and create forecasts with varying degrees of probability to predict how strong the storm may become and what areas it might affect.

Types of parallel programming models

There are two broad classifications for parallel programming models:

Process interaction

Process interaction refers to the mechanisms that allow parallel processes to communicate with each other. The three most common forms of interaction are:

Problem decomposition

Since parallel computing works by separating larger tasks into smaller processes and running them concurrently, they require the ability to decompose problems. Here are three processes that allow parallel programming to decompose problems:

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