Vector and array processing are essentially the same because, with slight and rare differences, a vector processor and an array processor are the same type of processor. A processor, or central processing unit (CPU), is a computer chip that handles most of the information and functions processed through a computer. A vector processor is in contrast to the simpler scalar processor, which handles only one piece of information at a time.
In discussions about vector and array processing, the two terms are used interchangeably, but they are technically slightly different. An array is made up of indexed collections of information called indices, the plural form of the word "index." Though an array can, in rare cases, have only one index collection, a vector is technically indicative of an array with at least two indices. Vectors are sometimes referred to as "blocks" of computer data.
Vector and array processing technology is not usually used in home or office computers. This technology is most often seen in high-traffic servers. Servers are racks of storage drives designed to house and allow access to information from several different users at different computers located on a computer network.
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Scalar processing technology operates on different principles than vector and array processing technology and is the most common type of processing hardware used in the average computer. A superscalar processor is a processor that operates like a scalar processor, but it has many different units within the CPU which each handle and process data simultaneously. The higher-performance superscalar processor type is also equipped with programming that makes it efficiently assign data processing to the available scalar units within the CPU. Most modern home computer processors are superscalar.
Inside a computer, a processor looks like a little shiny square about the size of a portable moist towelette wrapper, seated in a plastic part called a socket. The socket is embedded in the motherboard or mainboard chip on a computer, and locks the processor into place. It is usually underneath a cooling hardware part called a heatsink assembly, a mostly metal device that can include a fan, which can be found attached to the motherboard using a sturdy clip and bracket. Each type of processor has its own socket type compatibility, so a processor that does vector and array processing would definitely not be compatible with a scalar processor socket. A vector-type processor would probably not fit into the processor socket of another vector processor, even if it was made by the same manufacturer.