If you have a SMP system and wonder if exists such thing that can help you to use all CPUs to compress/decompress a file then the answer is YES, there is. It is PBZIP2 - the tool that speed up bzip2/xz compression using all your system's CPUs:
PBZIP2 is a parallel implementation of bzip2 block-sorting file compressor that uses pthreads and achieve near-linear speedup on SMP machines.
In fact there is even a version of BZIP2 that runs on cluster machines, it is called MPIBZIP2 which was designed for a distributed-memory message-passing architecture.
Edit: If you are going to use the Lempel-Ziv-Markov compression algorithm (LZMA) then even xz has a parallel implementation, called pxz.
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Always looking to learn more about *nix world, about the fundamental concepts of math, physics, electronics. I am also passionate about programming, database and systems administration. 16+ yrs experience in software development, designing enterprise systems, IT support and troubleshooting.