Both in a smartphone or a computer, a CPU (central processing unit) and a GPU (graphics processing unit) are always present. Both are meant to process and manipulate data, but some key differences between them make each suitable to perform given tasks efficiently. While it’s generally believed that the CPU does most of the computing and the GPU primarily handles graphics, it should be noted that it isn’t exactly as simple as this.
Key differences between the CPU & the GPU
Basically, the CPU is a processor and the GPU is also a processor, but they have different architectures. This difference in architecture is what makes them suitable to perform operations they are meant to execute.
Number of cores
The CPU has much fewer cores than a GPU. Talking about the CPUs, a CPU with 8 cores may be regarded as very efficient, but this same number of cores on a GPU is very impractical. For instance, the 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor (Kaby Lake) has only 4 cores. Despite this few number of cores, this processor is one of the most efficient ones out there. On the other hand, NVIDIA GTX 1080 GPU has a whopping 3,584 CUDA cores. You can view full article on this website.
So why exactly does the CPU generally has a fewer number of cores than the GPU?
There is a misconception that the GPU is a lot more powerful than the CPU because it processes resource-intensive operations like rendering graphics. This isn’t really true; because of their different architectures, some operations are processed a lot faster on the CPU compared than when the GPU does it. An operation like Word processing may be computed a lot faster with the CPU than the GPU.
The CPU is meant to perform complex manipulations to a small set of data, while the GPU is designed to perform simple manipulations to a large set of data.
In simpler terms, the CPU is meant to efficiently and quickly perform a task at once; this is why it has fewer number cores at high clock speeds. The GPU, on the other hand, has lots of cores with relatively lower clock speeds and these are meant to process loads of smaller operations at once. This is why the CPU cores relatively have higher clock speeds than the GPU.
Can one replace the other?
Since both the GPU and the CPU process data, one might wonder if one could replace the other. The short answer to that is a no. The GPU cannot replace the CPU, just as the CPU cannot be a GPU’s replacement. Both processing units are different solutions to different problems.
On a final note, it should be mentioned that the GPU isn’t just for processing graphics, it’s actually a specialized CPU that is also capable of handling parallel operations which the CPU is unable to handle.