The GPU or Graphics Processing Unit is a very important component in today’s computers since allows incredible graphics to be reproduced and that, of course, users can enjoy them. Hence, if you are a great fan of video games and high definition content, you are interested in knowing everything about it.
This component works in a similar to a CPU, but mainly analyzing the computer images without considering other more general aspects.
Further, there are several types, each with its own pros and cons, and today you will also know them to get the graphics card that best suits you. We will also show you the differences between this and the CPU from a computer. Finally, we will deal with the extended concept of GPU acceleration.
What is the GPU or Graphic Processing Unit and what is it for in a computer?
This is a video component of technological gadgets (computers, TVs, smartphones …) that has the function of process graphics. In addition, it helps to send all this information to the monitor.
This is, on the one hand, interprets the data that the CPU sends it, orders it and calculates it the values that are of interest to you to store everything in your own memory; for the other, performs processing of the stored and transforms them, so that the output device in question (usually a monitor), can analyze and interpret it analogically.
It should be mentioned that it is currently including other functionalities derived from supercomputing and network management as well as TV tuning, video capture, a special connectivity with peripherals …
In any case, your job includes generating anti-stagger, rendering, texture mapping, blurring, shading, tessellation, speculation, etc.
This component, as we have started by saying, It is very similar to a CPU, something like the version of this for the graphical context of the computers. Graphics processing unit is a coprocessor that analyzes the images to try to lighten the load on the CPU of a team.
Thus, this load is lighter when it is processed by the central unit and, therefore, it can perform its functions more easily, without having to force it.
Physically speaking, we find a piece of hardware, called a graphics card, which includes the set of software and other elements who work in these tasks. One of them is the GPU although it is already common to use both concepts as synonyms. After all, the processing unit is the main part of what the card is, which, we repeat, is the physical element, the hardware that contains everything.
Generally, this is attached to the motherboard, just like some of the other components of a computer. It can also just be a software and embedded chip on the motherboard or even on the CPU, not attachable, that is, it is not a piece to add (we will see later when we know the types of cards).
Some ways to name this unit, in addition to graphics card (that we have already seen that they are not the same but that we have decided to give them the same meaning) yuGraphics processing units are video card, video card, or graphics accelerator.
Speaking of the complete concept of graphics or video card, we cannot fail to mention that other parts are the GRAM, which is its graphic memory, with random access (RAMDAC), responsible for transforming a digital signal into analog, and the outputs which can be DVI, VGS, HDMI, DP …
As to its appearance, occurs in the 80s And it comes, like many other innovations in the sector, from the hand of IBM, which used an Apple computer as inspiration to achieve the development of what would be the first video card. As a curious fact, indicate that this was interchangeable. It was 4 kB and was connected to a monitor.
Operation and characteristics of the GPU in a PC
Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) are designed with many processing cores operating at low clock frequencies. This is the opposite of CPUs, which have few cores but very high clock frequencies.
The computer performs an analysis of the information that the graph has sent and transforms it into information that the output device or peripheral can interpret.
Nowadays, the design of the graphics processing unit includes two main functions: pixel and vertex processing.
Next, we will see how each of them works:
This is a fairly straightforward job for most modern graphics processing units as resource consumption is minimal.
The procedure is the next: get the information of the vertices, which has already been computed by CPU and then, process the rotation, spatial order, or vertex segment that is most visible graphically. With this procedure you can continue with the pixelation.
The vertex processing is done previously by the central processor so that the space is rearranged, the graph is visible and the image can begin to be pixelated.
This is when own graphics are processed that the user can see.
It is a fairly complex process and, in addition, requires a higher processing load. This occurs because all layers and effects will be applied that are necessary so that textures come out much more worked and quite realistic.
Finally, once the information in the graphics is processed in the ways we have just seen, it is taken to a monitor, which will know how to interpret it.
GPU types that exist today
There are currently three types of graphics on the market that differ mainly in the way they are implemented.
Let’s see what are the main differences between them:
They are the graphic units that they have greater power. In addition, they have a series of features and specifications for which they are specifically prepared. Hence, they are also the most efficient. The fundamental characteristic of a dedicated card is that has a completely independent RAM, which will only be used by the graphic unit.
A dedicated card is one that is located integrated into the motherboard connected by a specific port, although this is not always the most operational.
Integrated units use system memory to be able to perform its own functions. In restrained computers, they are the most used for consuming less. They are also used in tablets and smartphones.
The core of these cards used to always be on the motherboard; but for the most recent models of AMD and Intel it has been decided to integrate these cards on the processor itself. This has been called the AMD Accelerated Processing Unit (for the AMD brand) and Intel HD Graphics (obviously for the Intel brand).
These types of cards are what we could call low cost. This is because they keep prices very low but at the same time ensure adequate power levels for virtually all home and office equipment.
Hybrid cards share system memory, although they integrate a small amount of their own memory which is used to carry out immediate tasks.
With this type of card in addition, system memory latency time is decreased.
What is this about GPU acceleration?
GPU acceleration has been around for quite some time, although it is now that this feature is being used for web browsers, which is where we see it being implemented most often. With this acceleration much better performance and lower energy consumption are achieved.
Encoding accelerated by the graphics processing unit makes it easy for you to enjoy 2 to 5 times higher image conversion at the time of realizing, worth the redundancy, a conversion of graphics or videos. Thus, the combined power of CPU plus GPU is used to speed up the performance of those analytics applications and engineering.
GPU-accelerated computing makes the GPU is assigned the work of the part of the applications where it is necessary to perform calculations more thoroughly, while the lighter code runs on the CPU. This will make the user believe that the applications are running much faster.
In fact, this feature is used in the field of artificial intelligence (with novelties in drones and robots) and in certain applications that require high CPU consumption when solving complicated operations.
What are the differences between a CPU and a GPU?
We have talked about both throughout the text, but how are they different? This lies mainly in the architecture of both.
Although the two elements are designed to process data, the GPU is more efficient for calculating graphic information, has been created specifically for this. It is specialized for this task and may be less efficient in others.
The CPU, being a general purpose processor, can do all kinds of computation, since it has been designed to process data in series, being able, in fact, to also work with graphic information.
In fact, graphing takes (graph) work off the CPU and when a certain level of acceleration is applied to it, it can perform parallel processing for graphics work.
The GPU is capable of running many more programs at the same time (in parallel), although these must be a lot more specific. The ability to perform parallel jobs in graphics can even multiply a hundred times the performance of a CPU when performing similar operations.
Regarding the physical design of a GPU, it has a greater amount of silicon, which allows it to perform very specific tasks efficiently. The CPU follows a Von Newman architecture and the GPU uses the Circulating Model, focused on parallel processing.
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