The MultiProcessor Specification (MP Spec), version 1.4 defines an enhancement to the standard to which system manufacturers design DOS-compatible systems. Developed by Intel in cooperation with leading OEMs, OSVs, and BIOS vendors, the MP defines a standard way for the operating system to communicate with the hardware. The existence of a standard interface between the hardware and the OS makes it easy for the OSVs and OEMs to quickly support a wide range of platforms with one OS version, a benefit they already enjoy in the uniprocessor desktop market for Intel Architecture CPUs. In essence, the MP Spec brings the same "shrinkwrap" benefits of the desktop market to the MP market.
MP-capable operating systems will be able to run without special customization on multiprocessor systems that comply with this specification. End users who purchase a compliant multiprocessor system will be able to run their choice of operating systems.
The MP specification covers PC/AT-compatible MP platform designs based on Intel processor architectures and Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (APIC) architectures. The term PC/AT-compatible here refers to the software-visible components of the PC/AT, not to hardware features, such as the bus implementation, that are not visible to software. An implementation of this specification may incorporate one or more industry standard buses, such as ISA, EISA, MCA, PCI, or other OEM-specific buses. To encourage vendors to deliver solutions based on the MP Spec, Intel is making the copyrighted specification itself freely available to the industry.