Chips with collaborating CPU and GPU lead to faster processors


February 7, 2012

A new technique that allows CPUs and GPUs to collaborate on computing tasks has resulted in improved processor performance (Photo via Shutterstock)

A new technique that allows CPUs and GPUs to collaborate on computing tasks has resulted in improved processor performance (Photo via Shutterstock)

Want to get your computer to run faster? Well, consider its graphics processing unit (GPU) and central processing unit (CPU). The two work away at their own tasks, each one rarely helping the other shoulder its workload. Researchers from North Carolina State University, however, are in the process of changing that. They have already developed a technique that allows GPUs and CPUs located on a single chip to collaborate on tasks, and it has resulted in a processing speed increase of over 20 percent.

Placing GPUs and CPUs on the same chip is not entirely new - chip manufacturers have already been doing this for some time, in order to lower manufacturing costs and increase computers' energy efficiency. Their being together like that, however, has made the new technique possible. Basically, the process allows the two systems to share computing tasks, each one concentrating on what it does best.

"Our approach is to allow the GPU cores to execute computational functions, and have CPU cores pre-fetch the data the GPUs will need from off-chip main memory," said Dr. Huiyang Zhou, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. "This is more efficient because it allows CPUs and GPUs to do what they are good at. GPUs are good at performing computations. CPUs are good at making decisions and flexible data retrieval."

In tests performed so far, the technique has been shown to improve processor performance by an average of 21.4 percent.

Source: North Carolina State University

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Ken, News Flash!! They have these computers that have the GPU and CPU working in harmony for some time now. It\'s called.... A MAC. Made by APPLE.


Yeah and all Z68 chipsets do it already too - using Lucid Virtu.

Mark Sammut

Only 20% is not all that impressive. If computer designers would understand the similarities of needs for GPU and CPU, and how to properly network multiple processors, they could easily increase speeds by factors over 1000, and not just fractional %. The current method is increased speed of specialized processors, and that is dead because clock speeds and bus widths have hard limit walls. Simple, slow, narrow, generic, multifunction processors have no limits or walls at all, and when properly coordinated in a multiprocessor grid, can process data millions of times faster.


GPU\'s have been doing CPU\'s job ever since folding at home got to be such a hit and CPU\'s do GPU\'s job ANY time there isn\'t a GPU. I don\'t know much but i know this is way over generalized and something i heard about years ago. plus i hate stock photos so much, just get your camera and take a picture of an ACTUAL computer that might do this. not a monitor and an OLD OLD 90\'s era keyboard, both apparently adapted for wireless use.


Let me tell you from experience, it\'s today\'s software which slows down computers a lot, many ancient computers can adequately manage most tasks. The turning point is the P4 pentium, above this, today\'s bloated software has ruined everything, even celeron can carry out tasks. The future will have arm processors in cars, airplanes, ships and even militaries will use them with customised android software, any hardware is fine, it\'s the software particular to tasks which is the key.

Dawar Saify
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