I’ve gotten a few questions regarding what a CPU does, and how it compares to a GPU. In this tutorial, we’ll discuss these differences.
The CPU, or Computer Processor, is what powers your computer. It’s what processes the complex calculations under the hood and tells each piece of hardware on your machine what to do. Essentially, your CPU runs programs and coordinates hardware.
Clock Speed: Clock speed is what determines how fast your CPU performance is. It’s measured in Hz and GHz (one billion Hz), but it might be easier to think of the Hz as processes per second. However, the clock speed is not the sole factor that determines how good your CPU really is.
Cores: If you’re familiar with languages like Java, you’ve used multi-threading before. Basically, a CPU with two cores can process twice as fast, three cores is thrice as fast, and so on. This is because each core works at the same time. So if you have a CPU with multiple cores, you only have one CPU chip in your computer, but it acts as multiple CPUs that can do multiple tasks at the same time. A dual-core CPU has two cores and a quad-core CPU has four. Some even have six and eight cores.
Now I’m sure you’ve heard of i3, i5, i7, or i9 processors. Let’s break down what these are.(intel.com)
The above image shows what all those numbers and letters actually mean. Notice how there are so many factors that decide the strength of the CPU. In other words, the number after the “i” does not determine how good the CPU is—you really need to take all the specs into account. Here’s a link to decode what each part of your processor specs actually mean: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/processors/processor-numbers.html
Each of these letters represents a different quality of the processor, for example, here’s a table from the intel website that highlights what the Product Line Suffix represents:
The key takeaway here is that the quality of your computer processor is much more complicated than just “i5” or “i7”. There are a whole lot of other factors you need to consider. If you need a quick way to compare two computer processors, however, you can use http://cpuboss.com/compare-cpus.
The GPU is works essentially the same way as the CPU, except it’s used for graphics. Unless you game, work with AI, or edit videos, you won’t need a very strong GPU*. All in all, the GPU renders your screen, pixel by pixel, color by color. This takes lots of computational strength, which is why there is a completely different processor dedicated to it. The most common manufacturers of GPU are ATI and , as opposed to Intel, and you can check out their websites for an in-depth look into what kinds of GPUs are available on the market.
GPUs access VRAM, an allocated part of your main RAM specifically meant for video rendering and graphics processing.
Besides for the above differences, the GPU is very similar to the CPU. It can have multiple cores, it’s clock speed is measured in GHz, and it essentially, it performs the same types of calculations as a CPU does, except the calculations that a GPU makes mainly pertain to graphics.
*Unless you have a HD monitor (i.e. 4K). In that case, your machine will rely on a strong GPU to render the HD screen.