What Are GPUs? Everything to Know

GPUs are specialized computer chips that were originally designed to accelerate graphics rendering. However, they are now also widely used for general-purpose computing tasks such as machine learning, data science and even cryptocurrency mining.

GPUs are well suited for these types of tasks because they can perform large numbers of calculations in parallel.

This makes them many times faster than a regular CPU for certain types of workloads.

There are two main types of GPUs: consumer GPUs and professional (or “workstation”) GPUs.

Consumer GPUs are typically used for gaming or other personal uses, while professional GPUs are designed for more demanding applications such as video editing or 3D rendering. GPUs have become increasingly used for cryptocurrency mining as well.

GPUs are manufactured by a number of different companies, the most popular being NVIDIA and AMD.

GPU vs. CPU

GPUs are designed for highly parallel computing tasks, while CPUs are better suited for more sequential tasks. This means that a GPU can sometimes be many times faster than a CPU for certain types of workloads.

However, GPUs also have some disadvantages compared to CPUs. They typically consume more power and produce more heat, which can make them less suitable for use in laptops or other portable devices. They also tend to be more expensive than CPUs.

Which is better, a GPU or CPU? It depends on the type of task you’re trying to perform.

For example, if you’re doing video editing or 3D rendering, a GPU will probably be much faster than a CPU. However, if you’re just browsing the web or doing other light tasks, a CPU will likely be sufficient.

GPUs can be used for both general-purpose computing and graphics rendering.

Types of GPUs

There are two main types of GPUs:

  • consumer GPUs and
  • professional (or “workstation”) GPUs

Consumer GPUs are typically used for gaming or other personal uses, while professional GPUs are designed for more demanding applications such as video editing or 3D rendering.

Professional GPUs are often more expensive than consumer GPUs, but they also offer better performance and features.

GPUs can be further classified into two categories:

  • discrete and
  • integrated

Discrete GPUs are standalone cards that plug into a computer’s PCI Express slot, while integrated GPUs are built into the CPU itself.

Discrete GPUs tend to be more powerful than integrated GPUs, but they also require more power and generate more heat. Integrated GPUs are less powerful but can be more power-efficient.

GPU manufacturers

The two most popular GPU manufacturers are NVIDIA and AMD.

NVIDIA is the market leader in GPUs, with a 70% share.

AMD is the second-largest manufacturer of GPUs, with a 30% market share.

Other companies that manufacture GPUs include Intel, Qualcomm and Imagination Technologies.

GPU architecture

GPUs are often classified by their architecture, which refers to the design of the chip. The most popular architectures are NVIDIA’s Maxwell, Pascal and Turing, and AMD’s Vega and Navi.

Maxwell is the oldest architecture, while Turing is the newest. Pascal and Vega are both intermediate architectures.

Maxwell GPUs are used in the GTX 900 and GTX 1000 series of cards from NVIDIA.

Pascal GPUs are used in the GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080 cards from NVIDIA. Vega GPUs are used in the Radeon RX 500 and Radeon RX 400 series of cards from AMD. Navi GPUs will be used in the upcoming Radeon RX 6000 series of cards from AMD.

Turing is the newest GPU architecture from NVIDIA, and it’s used in the RTX 2060, 2070, 2080 and 2080 Ti cards. Turing GPUs are designed for real-time ray tracing, which is a technique for producing realistic lighting effects in games and other graphics applications.

GPU performance

The performance of a GPU can be measured in several ways. The most common metric is the number of floating point operations per second (FLOPS). This measures the raw computational power of the GPU.

Other performance metrics include fill rate, which measures the speed at which the GPU can render pixels; texture rate, which measures the speed at which the GPU can apply textures to polygons; and memory bandwidth, which measures the speed at which data can be read from or written to the GPU’s memory.

GPUs can also be compared by their power consumption. This is important for laptop users, as a higher-powered GPU will often result in shorter battery life.

Finally, GPUs can be judged by the quality of their drivers.

Drivers are the software that allows your operating system and applications to communicate with your hardware. Good driver support is important for getting the most out of your GPU.

Conclusion

GPUs can offer a significant performance boost over CPUs for certain types of workloads, but they also have some disadvantages.

It’s important to choose the right GPU for your needs in order to get the most out of it. NVIDIA and AMD are the two main manufacturers of GPUs, and their products are often compared against each other.

The most important factor in GPU performance is the architecture, with the newest architectures generally offering the best performance. Other factors to consider include FLOPS, fill rate, texture rate, memory bandwidth, and power consumption.

Good driver support is also important for getting the most out of your GPU.

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