Preview: GPGPU performance of modern graphics cards

Even if you never touch a game on your PC, there are good reasons to invest in a capable graphics card. Today we will examine the GPGPU performance of recently released graphics cards, and see what the best applications are for this technology. For example, which card should you have to get the most out of Adobe Photoshop or Cyberlink PowerDirector?

The main reason for spending money on a high-end graphics card is gaming. However, the powerful chips on modern video cards can be used for much more than that. GPUs have transformed into a tool for other things than just powering demanding 3D graphics, and have become fully programmable processors. That is why, when you use graphics cards for things other than gaming, it's referred to as GPGPU. That stands for General Purpose GPU.

We saw the term GPGPU for the first time in 2005 in a press release from Nvidia that talked about using video cards for things other than just gaming. The Nvidia cards at the time, the GeForce 7800 series, featured the DirectX 9 API which made it possible for GPUs to run their own code. And of course it's been further developed since then.

AMD, which at the time was still called ATI, was quick to jump on the GPGPU bandwagon. It was generally accepted that the growing power of graphics cards had the potential to be used for more than just gaming. The design of a GPU also makes it more suitable for certain tasks than a CPU.

The foundation of a GPU is very different than that of a CPU. Normal processors contain a relatively small number of very powerful cores (typically two or four) that can perform a variety of different tasks. A CPU is great at doing things in sequence, but the number of possible simultaneous operations is limited to the number of cores. You can read the rest of Preview: GPGPU performance of modern graphics cards on Hardware.info.