What is the Difference between CPU and GPU ?

If you are not familiar with CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphics processing unit), then read out the brief difference between CPU and GPU to enhance your knowledge.

The CPU and GPU are two vital devices of the electronic computer system, but the functioning of both is entirely different from one another. CPU (central processing unit) is a microprocessor that is used to execute the instructions given by a program according to operations such as algorithms, arithmetic, logic, control, input, and output. However, on the other end, GPU (Graphics processing unit) is an internal device used to render an image on the computer screen. The foundation of CPU revolves around low latency whereas GPU has to provide high performance throughout.

You could say the CPU is the brain and the GPU is the eyes. Your brain understands the world, how it functions, physics, etc. While your eye is creating the images, you see in the world.

Both these terms are different from one another, but to properly run a computer device, they are equally important. So, if you are planning to buy a new computer system, then you should understand the basic difference between CPU and GPU the terms.

What is a CPU(Central Processing Unit)?

CPU or Central Processing Unit is the brain of any electronically embedded unit. It consists of two functioning units – ALU and CU.

Arithmetic Logic Unit is used to store temporary data and perform mathematical calculations, whereas the Control Unit is used to perform the task of sequencing and branching.

The first company to develop a CPU is Intel, named 4004 chip which was the first 4-bit CPU. After that, they designed it on x86 architecture which became more popular, later ARM has come up with a 32-bit microprocessor made by Acorn Computers.

CPU functions as a brain in the computer system as it has to interact with other parts of the system such as memory and input and output unit. It is the responsibility of the CPU to execute the information received from the memory. The control unit has to sometimes interact with the input and output unit to maintain the functionality of the system.

It generates an address, data, and control signals while receiving the data, status signals and interrupts with the help of the system bus. A system bus is a collection of various buses such as data, address, and control bus. The CPU assigns more hardware units to fast cache while low to computation which is entirely different from the GPU.

Function Of CPU :

  • Fetch Instructions
  • Interpret Instructions
  • Fetch the whole Data
  • Write Data
  • Control the timing of the information flow
  • Control the storage of data
  • Give commands to all components of the computer
  • Performs all the calculations

CPU Central Processing Unit manages every functionality, calculations of every hardware and software component which your pc posses that it qualifies it to be named also as “the brain” of Computer.


What is a GPU(Graphics Processing Unit)/Graphics Card?

The GPU or also called a Graphics processing unit is a special processor that is used to display graphics on the screen. It is mostly incorporated by the CPU to share RAM with the entire system, GPU is in a way regulated by the CPU just like the other parts of a computer system. It is required to experience the high-end graphics display. The discreetly working GPU Unit has its RAM called VRAM which is used to display videos.

The graphics units were first introduced by Intel and IBM in 1980. The GPU is used to earlier perform very basic functions like area filling, alteration of simple images, shape drawing and so on. However, modern GPU technology has developed very much and today GPU can perform research and analysis without the requirement of CPU. The GPU is today working parallel with the CPU. In the GPU several processing units are stripped together where no cache coherency exists. It won’t be wrong to say that GPU technology has improved tremendously in the past few years and has revamped the methods of display.

Graphics Processing Unit

Functions Of GPU :

  • Do calculations related to 3D
  • Specialized for display Functions.
  • Renders images, video, and animations for the computer’s screen
  • GPU is designed to perform floating point operations

Is GPU & Graphics Card the Same?

Yes and no, one does not function without the other. The graphics card is a chip on the Graphics processing unit, and they both enable each other to work. Since they are bought as 1 unit it is very common to refer to the GPU is the ‘Graphics Card.’ While this is not technically correct regarding terminology, it is easy to see why as you will never see a modern GPU without a graphics card.

The graphics card is the hardware as a whole, while the GPU is a chip, part of the graphics card or an onboard similar, which stands for “Graphics Processing Unit“.

Graphics Card

Key Difference Between CPU and GPU

The central processing unit is the mean functioning unit of a computer, whereas the graphics processing unit is the display unit of the computer. Both these units are entirely different from one another, but still, some of their functioning is interfering with each other. So, to better conclude both, let’s study their key differences –

  1. The major difference between the functioning of both processing units is in their speed. In the CPU, low latency is given priority. However, in the GPU high performance is a must to render a high-quality display.
  2. The working of CPU is very interactive when a series of sequenced instructions needed to be processed. On the other hand, the GPU is effective when a series of parallel instructions need to be processed.
  3. You can find the difference between the formation of the central processing unit and the graphics processor unit as well. The CPU is formed of less powerful cores whereas GPU formation is based on a large number of weak cores.
  4. On the grounds of speed, GPU offers more speed to the users and it functions on parallel instructions which are way more faster than the sequenced or branched instructions understood by the CPUs.
  5. Though CPU requires more memory to work as compared to the GPU. GPU can process on less amount of memory and functions even faster than the CPUs.
  6. If we talk about the main features of both processor units, then they have two entirely different agendas. The main feature of the central processing unit is to control the logic of the out of order and speculated executions. On the contrary, GPU has different features to establish an architectural structure for the tolerance of memory latency.
CPU stands for Central Processing Unit. While GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit.
CPU consumes or needs more memory than GPU. While it consumes or requires less memory than the CPU.
The speed of CPU is less than GPU’s speed. While GPU is faster than CPU’s speed.
CPU contains minute powerful cores. While it contains more weak cores.
CPU is suitable for serial instruction processing. While GPU is not suitable for serial instruction processing.
CPU is not suitable for parallel instruction processing. While GPU is suitable for parallel instruction processing.
CPU emphasis on low latency. While GPU emphasizes on high throughput.

Architectural difference between CPU and GPU

In architecture sense, the CPU is composed of a few huge Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) cores for general-purpose processing with lots of cache memory and one huge control module that can handle a few software threads at a time. CPU is optimized for serial operations since its clock is very high. While GPU, on the other hand, has many small ALUs, small control modules, and a small cache. GPU is optimized for parallel operations.

  • GPU compute unit is much simpler than a modern superscalar CPU core
  • GPU compute unit does not do branch prediction
  • All GPU cores execute the same instructions, at the same time, but operate on different data (SIMD)
  • A CPU core has a massive cache, branch prediction and higher clock speed


Suppose you want to know whether the CPU is important in electronic devices or GPU. Then, we can honestly say that it is impossible to conclude which one is better among the CPU and GPU. That’s because the existence of both units depends upon each other. Without the CPU, GPU can’t display the graphics and with the absence of CPU, GPU can’t get instructions on when to produce the graphics. So, they both are equally important parts of the computer system and you cannot compromise on the quality of anyone because together they generate the best outcome.

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