Researchers Combine GPUs And CPUs In Single Chip
February 7, 2012

Researchers Combine GPUs And CPUs In Single Chip

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a new technique that allows graphic processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) on a single computer chip.

This processor could potentially allow a computer to perform an average 20 percent better.

“Chip manufacturers are now creating processors that have a ℠fused architecture,´ meaning that they include CPUs and GPUs on a single chip,” Dr. Huiyang Zhou, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, said in a statement.

GPUs are designed to execute the graphic program, while CPUs are designed to perform more complex tasks.

“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,” Zhou said in the press release. “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.”

The team found that by combining both CPUs and GPUs in a single processor, it could improve performance by an average of 21.4 percent.

Zhou said this approach was not possible in the past because CPUs and GPUs were located on separate chips.

“This approach decreases manufacturing costs and makes computers more energy efficient," he said. "However, the CPU cores and GPU cores still work almost exclusively on separate functions.

He said the researchers are still trying to make the CPU and GPU side of the chip work more efficiently together.

"They rarely collaborate to execute any given program, so they aren´t as efficient as they could be," Zhou said. "That´s the issue we´re trying to resolve.”

The researchers will be presenting their findings at the 18th International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture on February 27.


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