General-Purpose Graphics Processing Unit

What Does General-Purpose Graphics Processing Unit Mean?

A general-purpose graphics processing unit (GPGPU), is a graphics processing unit (GPU) processor that is used for purposes other than rendering graphics. The emergence of the GPGPU has to do with the evolution of computer processors over the past few decades.


Techopedia Explains General-Purpose Graphics Processing Unit

The first and most primitive processor was the central processing unit (CPU). CPU metrics are still used to talk about computer processing in virtualized environments or other setups, but the CPU is not the only choice available anymore.

Early on in the personal computer revolution, as graphics rendering started to stress the ability of the CPU, the GPU was developed to handle these graphics. The GPU, unlike the CPU, has parallel processing capability – it can perform operations more quickly, due to the intense numbers of mathematical calculations necessary to render sophisticated graphics.

Over time, engineers found that a GPU could also be helpful in crunching big data, working with elaborate physical calculations or maintaining other parallel processing tasks that would speed up performance and increase capability. The GPU started getting put into many different systems as a new and improved way of processing because of its multicore parallel processing ability. Now the GPGPU is routinely put into systems that have nothing to do with rendering graphics, because of its applications to big data.


Related Terms

Latest Hardware Terms

Related Reading

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…