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ARTICLE: ACPI Uniprocessor to Multiprocessor HAL Upgrade

Dual-core systems abound nowadays that it is virtually impossible not to upgrade to them given the nice performance offering they promise. What's more, the sweet deals out there make them even more enticing. The question now is: Is it that easy to upgrade from a uniprocessor machine (single-core) to a multiprocessor machine (dual-core)?

It might seem that simple but one will run into complexities, especially to users running NT-based Windows XP or its modern variants. To answer the above question, upgrading the processor from a single core to a dual-core involves more than unplugging the old single-core processor and putting the new dual-core one in its place. That is just the first step.

That supposedly simple unplug-n-plug upgrade requires reinstalling Windows to load the appropriate Hardware Abstraction Layer (or HAL). But there is an easier way to upgrade HAL than a reinstall. Read on as this article will guide you into how to upgrade the HAL from a uniprocessor HAL to a multiprocessor HAL.

HAL Upgrade. Before the instructions on how the process is done, there is a requirement and it is a good thing the sole requirement can be downloaded off the internet. Since you are able to browse this article, you are also just as able to download the required program -- devcon.exe, which is in a zip file that you may download here (46,161 bytes; md5 checksum: 8B4D866B5B920B040A634D6B04096B10).

The downloaded zip file, devcon.zip (46,161 bytes), contains two binaries of devcon.exe. One binary for 32-bit (55,808 bytes) flavors of Windows and the other for 64-bit (92,672 bytes). This means the procedure can be used for all modern flavors of Windows whether it be 32-bit or 64-bit.


Extract the version applicable to your version of Windows. For our article we will use 32-bit version of Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2. Let us assume the workspace directory to be C:\HAL_UPGRADE. The same binary can be extracted to %WINDIR% or %WINDIR%\system32 as these directories belong to %PATH% environment variable and are automatically searched for executable binaries.

With the devcon.exe binary in place, all that is necessary is the upgrade script. Download the script and save as a .cmd file. For the purposes of this article, let us name the file/script HALupgrade.cmd.


Now all that is left is to execute the script and do a reboot. The script will automatically perform a reboot (devcon reboot) when it finishes execution.


Execute HALupgrade.cmd. The script takes less than five (5) minutes to execute. Allow your computer to reboot after it executes. Execution should get you a screenshot just like above.

After reboot, the Windows should be able to detect two cores. And device manager should be displaying the correct HAL loaded.


This script was tested on Windows XP Professional SP1/SP2 and Windows Server 2003 Standard SP1/SP2. Both operating systems are 32-bit x86 versions. Please let us know your success in using this procedure. Your feedback is highly appreciated.

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