GPU vs CPU: What’s The Difference And Why Does It Matter?

7 min read

The introduction of computer animation and graphics brought the initial compute-intensive applications that CPUs were just not built to handle. For example, video game animation needs apps to analyze data to display thousands of pixels, each with its color, brightness, and movement. Geometric mathematical computations on CPUs at the time caused performance concerns. As a result, we have created the most comprehensive comparison of “GPU vs CPU.”

Hardware makers began to notice that outsourcing typical multimedia operations may free up CPU resources and improve performance. Today, GPU workloads outperform CPUs in a variety of compute-intensive applications, including artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Continue reading and exploring to learn what is CPU and GPU  and the major difference between CPU and GPU. Moreover, we will also let you know why GPU is faster than CPU.

Accelerating Deep Learning And AI

Today, some CPUs have NPUs (neural processing units), which work with GPUs on the processor to accomplish the high-performance deducing tasks necessary by AI. These AI-accelerated processors enable building pre-trained neural networks required for AI’s crucial inferencing step, involving using skills you have learned during training to generate predictions. As AI grows more essential, the NPU/GPU combo will become a standard feature of future computer systems.

For GPUs, Graphics Processing Is The First Of Many Applications

That application, computer graphics, was only the beginning of numerous successful apps. And it has propelled the massive R&D engine driving GPUs onward. All of this allows GPUs to outperform more specialized, fixed-function CPUs in narrow markets.

CUDA is another aspect that makes all of that power available. The parallel computing platform, which was first introduced in 2007, allows developers to leverage GPU vs CPU computing capability for universal processing by putting a few straightforward commands into their code.

As a result, GPUs are very popular in startling new domains. With support for a rapidly expanding set of standards, like Kubernetes and Dockers, apps may be evaluated on an inexpensive desktop GPU before scaling up to faster, more complex server GPUs and every major cloud provider. Now, let’s have a look at CPU’s history in our comparison of “GPU vs CPU.”

CPUs And The Demise Of Moore’s Law

GPUs, created by NVIDIA in 1999, arrived just as Moore’s law was coming to an end.

Moore’s law states that the total number of transistors that may enfold onto a single integrated circuit will double every two years. For decades, this has spurred a tremendous expansion in processing power. That law, however, has run up against physical constraints.

GPUs provide a mechanism to continue speeding applications like graphics, supercomputing, and AI by distributing jobs over several processors. Such accelerates are important to the future of electronic components, says John Hennessey and David Patterson, recipients of the 2017 A.M.

Key Differences Between CPU and GPU

Key Differences Between CPU and GPU

Here are the comprehensive key differences between “GPU vs CPU” you must know in 2024:

Deep learning

Deep learning is a field where GPUs outperform CPUs. The following are the key variables influencing the popularity of GPU processors in deep learning:

  • Memory bandwidth: GPUs were originally meant to speed the 3D processing of textures and hexagons so they could manage massive datasets. The cache is insufficient to hold the amount of information that a GPU processor processes regularly. Hence, GPUs have larger and faster memory links.
  • Large datasets: Deep learning models demand vast datasets. GPUs’ effectiveness in handling memory-intensive tasks makes them an obvious choice.
  • Parallelism: To alleviate the delay problem triggered by data size, GPUs employ thread parallelism, which is the simultaneous usage of several processing threads.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Massive neural network workloads demand a lot of hardware power, and GPU-based systems provide much more resources at a lower cost.

Function

The fundamental distinction between a CPU and a GPU is in their functions. A server cannot function without a CPU. The CPU performs all of the operations necessary for all software on the server to function correctly. A GPU, on the other hand, allows the CPU to do calculations concurrently.

A GPU can do basic and repetitive operations more quickly since it can divide them into smaller parts and complete them simultaneously. In this section, the CPU is the clear winner in our GPU vs CPU discussion.

GPU vs CPU Architecture

The CPU is made up of billions of transistors that work together to form logic gates, which are subsequently coupled into functional blocks. On a wider scale, the CPU consists of three major components:

The Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) consists of circuits that conduct operations in arithmetic and logic.

The Control Unit extracts instructions from the input and routes them to ALUs, Cache Memory, RAM, or devices.

The cache contains intermediate values required for ALU computations or assists in keeping track of sub-routines and functions in the power source program being performed.

CPUs can include several cores, each with its own ALU, control unit, and cache.

The GPU is made up of similar components, but it has a significantly higher number of lesser, specialized cores. The objective of numerous cores is to allow the GPU to do several concurrent processing tasks. It is the major difference in our GPU vs CPU debate.

Cache Memory

The CPU utilizes a cache to save the amount of time and energy required to get data from memory. The cache is intended to be smaller, quicker, and closer to other CPU parts than the main memory.

The CPU cache consists of several levels. The level nearest to the core serves alone by that core, whereas the farthest layer shares use by all CPU cores. Modern CPUs handle cache management dynamically. Each layer determines whether a bit of memory might be maintained or evicted depending on its frequency of use.

The GPU’s local memory is architecturally comparable to the CPU cache. The most significant distinction is that the GPU memory has a non-uniform memory access design.

It enables programmers to select which memory portions to stay in the memory of the GPU and which to remove, resulting in greater memory optimization.

Hardware Limitations

Hardware constraints provide a substantial challenge for CPU makers. Moore’s law was developed in 1965 based on past experiences and forecasts, laying the groundwork for today’s digital revolution. This rule asserts that every two years, the number of transistors on a semiconductor device doubles while the cost of computers is cut in half. However, 57 years later, his insights are probably ending. Today, there is a limit on how many transistors can be put into a piece of silicon. Nonetheless, manufacturers have attempted to address these hardware limits with networked computing, quantum computing, and silicon substitutes.

GPU producers, on the other hand, have faced no hardware limits thus far. Huang’s law states that GPU innovation is considerably quicker than CPU. It further claims that the efficiency of GPUs doubles every two years.

Intended Function In Computing

The term CPU relates to the central processing unit. A CPU is a generic processor essential to all modern computing systems because it performs the orders and operations required by the computer and its underlying operating systems to function properly. Thus, you can sometimes call it the computer’s brain.

As previously stated, the CPU consists of three components: an arithmetic logic unit (ALU), the control unit (CU), and memory. The control unit controls data flow, whereas the ALU performs logical and mathematical calculations on memory-provided data. The CPU controls how fast applications may run.

However, GPU refers to a graphics processing unit, often known as a video or graphics card.

A GPU is a processor with particular capabilities created and set to handle graphical data. Thus, data such as photos may be converted from one graphic form to another. It may also generate 2D or 3D pictures, commonly used in 3D printing operations. Moreover, CPU wins in this section during our GPU vs CPU debate.

Context Switch Delay

Context switch latency is the time a processing unit requires to complete a process. When a request containing instructions arrives, a dependency chain immediately begins, with each process relying on the preceding one until the request finishes. A CPU switches between several threads more slowly because information exists in registers. In contrast, GPU activities happen concurrently. It implies there isn’t any inter-warp switch of context, which requires registers to pass through when saved to memory and recovered.

Why GPU Is Faster Than CPU?

Why GPU Is Faster Than CPU

GPUs obtain their speed at a cost. A single GPU core performs significantly slower than just one CPU core. For instance, the Fermi GTX 580 features a core speed of 772MHz. You wouldn’t wish your CPU to have such a low-core clock today. However, the GPU includes many cores (up to 16), each operating in a 32-wide SIMD mode. It results in 500 operations completed simultaneously. Common CPUs, on the other hand, have up to four or eight cores and may function in four-wide SIMD, resulting in significantly reduced parallelism.

Specific algorithms (graphics interpreting, linear algebra, video encoding, etc.) can efficiently run across such a large number of cores. That includes breaking passwords. Other algorithms, however, are extremely difficult to parallelize. There is continuing study in this field… Those algorithms would do horribly if they were running on the GPU.

Also Read: Embedded Systems: Building Blocks Of Smart Devices And IoT

Conclusion

In this blog, we covered the distinction between “GPU vs CPU.” CPUs are processors that control the overall operation of a computer. GPUs, on the other hand, have specific processors that improve graphics and computational performance.

The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, and the graphics processing unit, or GPU, are two of the most significant and essential components of PCs and mainframe computers; contemporary computing cannot work without them. Most breakthroughs in this sector, from AI and supercomputers to analytical forecasting, rely on these two fundamental building pieces. It is crucial to remember that while CPUs and GPUs have separate tasks, they work collectively to perform various activities in a computer.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q#1 Is A GPU Better Than A CPU?

GPU cores are not as influential as CPU cores and utilize less RAM. While CPUs may quickly switch between several instruction sets, a GPU merely accepts many of the same commands and processes them quickly. As a result, GPU capabilities play a critical role in parallel computation.

Q#2 Is RAM For CPU Or GPU?

The CPU and GPU both access RAM to execute operations, which is critical for the computer’s performance and responsiveness, particularly in graphics-intensive applications. When you launch an app or a document, it loads into memory for instant access.

Q#3 Can A GPU Replace A CPU?-

CPUs are more valuable than GPUs for specific tasks. Because of this, GPU chips can only partially substitute CPUs. CPUs are best for sequential computing, but GPUs are better for parallel processing.

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