CPU & GPU: How Do They Function Together?

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September 15, 2022

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With the increase in the computation capabilities and growing demands of various organizations, the need for computing demands is evolving. As a result, today’s systems are expected to function at the highest capabilities, whether for deep learning applications, massively parallel computing, intense 3D gaming, or any demanding workload. 

Here is the most awakening topic on how industries are coping with computational needs with the help of CPU and GPU.

CPU & GPU: Informative Insight

The fundamental computing units are Central Processing Units (CPUs) and Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). However, as computing demands change, it is not always clear what the distinctions between CPUs and GPUs are and which workloads are best suited to each. 

The functions of a central processing unit (CPU) and a graphics processing unit (GPU) are very different. For example, CPU power is used for traditional desktop processing, and GPU power is increasingly used in other areas. 

How CPU & GPU Work Together

A CPU (central processing unit) and a GPU (graphics processing unit) collaborate to boost data throughput and the number of concurrent calculations within an application. GPUs were initially developed to generate visuals for computer graphics and video game consoles. Still, from the early 2010s, GPUs have also been used to speed up calculations requiring enormous quantities of data.

A GPU will never wholly replace a CPU: it complements CPU design by allowing repetitive computations inside an application to perform in parallel. At the same time, the primary program continues to run on the CPU. The CPU serves as the system’s taskmaster, coordinating various general-purpose computing operations, while the GPU performs a smaller range of specialized duties (usually mathematical). A GPU may perform more work in the same amount of time than a CPU due to the power of parallelism.

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Difference Between CPU and GPU

The CPU is well suited to many workloads requiring low latency or high per-core performance. The CPU is a powerful execution engine that focuses its smaller number of cores on completing individual tasks quickly. This property makes it uniquely suited to functions ranging from serial computing to database administration.

GPUs started as specialized ASICs designed to speed up specific 3D rendering tasks. These fixed-function engines became more programmable and flexible over time. The GPU remains the primary processor for graphics and the increasingly lifelike visuals seen in today’s top games. Still, it has evolved to become a more general-purpose parallel processor capable of handling a broader range of tasks.

CPU vs. GPU Processing

Due to tremendous parallelism, GPUs can process data several orders of magnitude quicker than CPUs. However, GPUs are not as adaptable as CPUs. CPUs have vast and diverse instruction sets that manage all of a computer’s input and output, whereas a GPU cannot. A server environment may have 24 to 48 high-speed CPU cores. Adding 4 to 8 GPUs to this same server can give up to 40,000 more cores. While individual CPU cores are quicker and more innovative than individual GPU cores, the sheer number of GPU cores and massive parallelism compensate for the single-core clock speed disadvantage and restricted instruction sets.

GPUs excel at repetitive and massively parallel processing jobs. For example, GPUs excel at machine learning, financial simulations, risk modeling, and various other scientific computations in addition to video rendering. While GPUs were formerly used to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, they are no longer widely employed at a scale, giving place to specialized hardware like as Field-Programmable Grid Arrays (FPGA) and eventually Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) (ASIC).

Examples of CPU to GPU Computing

  • CPU and GPU video rendering: A graphics card can convert video from one graphics format to another quicker than a CPU.
  • Data acceleration: A GPU has superior computation capabilities that allow it to handle more data in less time than a CPU. The GPU may offload such tasks when specialized applications like deep learning or machine learning need sophisticated mathematical computations. This frees up time and resources for the CPU to focus on other activities.
  • Cryptocurrency mining: It utilizes a computer as a relay to process transactions to get virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. While a CPU may accomplish this operation, a GPU with a graphics card can assist the computer in producing cash far more quickly.

Does HEAVY.AI Support CPU and GPU?

Yes. The GPU Open Analytics Initiative (GOAI) and its inaugural project, the GPU Data Frame (GDF, now cudf), were the first steps toward an open ecosystem for end-to-end GPU computing in the industry. The RAPIDS project’s primary purpose is to enable effective intra-GPU communication between various processes operating on GPUs.

Users can effortlessly switch a process running on the GPU to another method without moving the data to the CPU as cudf usage expands within the data science ecosystem. By eliminating intermediary data serializations across GPU data science tools, processing times are reduced considerably.

Furthermore, because cudf uses inter-process communication (IPC) features in the Nvidia CUDA programming API, processes may send a handle to the data rather than copying it, resulting in almost no overhead transfers. As a result, the GPU becomes a first-class compute citizen, and its processes may interact just as readily as processes on the CPU.

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