GPU-assisted computing is all the rage these days as Nvidia, AMD and Intel seek to explore the benefits of the GPU beyond rendering graphics.
For instance, Intel's new Sandy Bridge chips incorporate HD 2000 and HD 3000 processor graphics that's two times faster than Capella-based systems (review).
Nvidia is taking the opposite route, coupling their powerful GPUs with an ARM-designed processor on a single die, combining best of both worlds. And on Tuesday at the CES 2011 show in Las Vegas, AMD unveiled their next-generation processors, the Fusion accelerated processing units.
What's an accelerated processing unit (APU), anyway? AMD's official press release fails to explain the term in layman's terms and instead dazzles with a bunch of buzzwords.
What the company's doing here is they're basically incorporating multi-core CPU (x86) technology, a DirectX 11-capable discrete-level graphics and parallel processing engine onto a single die - that's an APU for you. So, APUs are like those Sandy Bridge chips or Nvidia's system-on-a-chips?
Well, yes and no - each technology has its advantages, but they're each architecturally different. Although an APU typically combines a CPU and GPU, it can include other units such as a video processing unit and other application-specific accelerators. Here's a nice little video AMD published to help explain how an APU works. See, you've just learned something new today.