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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

What is the GPU? (Graphics Processing Unit): Types and Functions

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A graphics processing unit is a computer chip that performs rapid mathematical calculations, primarily to display images. In the early days of computing, the processor performed these calculations.

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However, as graphics-intensive applications such as AutoCAD have been developed, their requirements put pressure on the processor and reduce performance. GPUs emerged as a way to remove these CPU tasks and free up CPU power.

Today, graphics chips are suitable for sharing processor performance and training deep neural networks for artificial intelligence applications. The GPU can be integrated with the CPU in the same circuit, on the graphics card or the motherboard of a personal computer or server.

NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, and ARM are among the major players in the GPU market.
GPU stands for Graphical Processing Unit (GPU), and you’ll also see GPUs better known as graphics cards.

Each computer uses a GPU to display images, videos, and 2D or 3D animations for viewing. The GPU does quick calculations and frees up the processor for other things.

Although the processor uses multiple cores focused on sequential batch processing, the GPU has thousands of smaller cores designed for multitasking.

Types of GPUs

  • Integrated GPUs are located in the computer processor and share memory with the processor.
  • Discrete graphics processors live on their cards and have their video memory (VRAM), so the computer does not have to use its own graphics RAM.

For the best performance, look for a discrete GPU. Today, many graphics cards are powered by GDDR SDRAM, which stands for Graphics Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory.

Other variations, from worst to best performance, are GDDR2, GDDR3, GDDR4, GDDR5, GDDR5X, and GDDR6.

GPU History

Graphics Processing Unit

Exceptional graphics processing chips have been around since the early days of video games in the 1970s. Initially, graphics capabilities included a graphics card, a discrete, dedicated card, a silicon chip, and cooling.

You need to specify 2D, 3D, and sometimes even GPU graphics processing calculations for your computer. Modern panels with built-in budgets for configuring, converting, and lighting triangles for 3D applications are commonly referred to as GPU.


Once rare, high-end GPUs are expected today and are sometimes built into the processors themselves. Alternative terms include a graphics card, monitor adapter, video adapter, video card, and almost any combination of words in those terms.

GPU first reached high-performance business PCs in the late 1990s, and in 1999 NVIDIA introduced the first PC GPU, GeForce 256. Over time, the GPU’s processing power made it a popular choice for other tasks related to non-graphics resources.

Early applications included scientific models and calculations; In the mid-2010s, GPU computing launched both machine-learning and artificial-intelligence software.

In 2012, NVIDIA announced a virtualized GPU, which unleashes a server processor’s GPU power on a virtual desktop. Graphics performance has always been one of the most common complaints from users of virtual desktops and applications, and virtualized graphics processors are looking to solve this problem.

How the GPU Works

CPU and GPU architectures also differ in the number of cores. The kernel is essentially a processor inside a processor.

Most processors have between four and eight cores, although some have up to 32 cores. Each kernel can manage its tasks or threads. Since some processors have multithreaded capabilities, where the core is almost split, allowing a single core to process two lines, the number of threads can be much larger than the number of cores.

This can be useful for video editing and transcoding. Processors can execute two threads (independent instructions) per core (separate processor)

What are GPUs Used For?

GPU is most often used to high-quality power games, producing realistic digital graphics. However, several commercial applications rely on powerful graphics chips.

For example, 3D modeling software like AutoCAD uses a GPU to display the model. Since people who work with this type of software tend to make a few minor changes in a short period, the computer they are using should be able to review the model quickly.

Video editing is another typical case; While some powerful processors can handle basic video editing, if you are working with large digits of high definition files, especially 4K or 360-degree videos, a premium GPU is essential for pre-encoding files at a reasonable speed.


Processors often prefer GPU for use in machine learning because they can handle more functions than processors over some time. This makes them more suitable for building neural networks due to the amount of data being processed.

However, not all GPUs are the same: Manufacturers like AMD and Nvidia often produce specialized professional versions of their chips, specifically designed for these types of applications and have more detailed support.

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Fadehan Emmanuel
Moore is an Associate—Editor of TheXplorion. Got a NEWS TIP related to this story — or to anything else in the world of big tech? Please e-mail him: mooreplug[at]gmail.com. You can also connect with him via the connections below the box.
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