Difference Between CPU and GPU

Both CPU and GPU act as the key components of electronic devices. The crucial difference between CPU and GPU is the purpose of their utilization. A CPU is a general-purpose processor that is designed to execute a variety of operations. On the contrary, a GPU is a special purpose register specifically designed for graphical operations.

Another major difference between a CPU and GPU is that a CPU has powerful cores but the quantity is less while GPU consists of comparatively less powerful but the number of cores is high. We will discuss other major differences between the two using comparison chart.

Content: CPU Vs GPU

  1. Comparison Chart
  2. Definition
  3. Key Differences
  4. Conclusion

Comparison Chart

Basis for ComparisonCPUGPU
Full formCentral Processing UnitGraphics Processing Unit
Memory requirementHighComparatively low
Processing speedLessMore
Number of coresLowVery high
Type of instruction processingSerialParallel
Clocking frequency2-3 GHz1 GHz

Definition of CPU

CPU is an acronym used for Central Processing Unit and is considered to be the brain of a computing system. A CPU carries out operation specified by the instructions present in the memory of the system. The figure below shows the basic architecture of a CPU:


A CPU along with handling the arithmetic and logical operations also manages the data flow operation inside the system using the system bus. The ALU specifically performs arithmetic and logic operations inside the system over the data fetched from the memory.

We know that the data input is in assembly level language but the computer understands only machine level language. Therefore, the data stored in the memory must be decoded into a format so that the system can perform the desired operation over it.

So here control unit comes into action and sends control signal according to the need of the system. At the time of processing the data, the input is converted into processor understandable format.

But at the time of providing output, the desired data is again converted into user understandable format. It is to be noteworthy here that a CPU has less number of units or cores that has high clock frequency. These units allow serial operation of tasks required to be performed.

Definition of GPU

GPU is an acronym used for Graphics Processing Unit. It is a circuit that holds the ability to instantly change the data in the memory in order to boost image creation in the buffer so as to have an output for display devices. It is also known as Visual Processing Unit.

It is basically a logic chip designed to execute display operations. Unlike CPU, these are only designed for computer graphics and image processing. The figure below shows the basic architecture of a GPU:GPU

If GPU is present as a built-in unit with CPU then it shares the main memory i.e., RAM with the CPU. However, in the case of stand-alone or separate GPU, it consists of its own memory known as V-RAM. In comparison to CPU, the number of operations performed by the GPU is very less but as it supports parallelism, therefore, it has faster-operating speed.

Basically, a large number of cores in GPU efficiently processes large algorithm thereby making the process faster. Even a CPU can perform the operation of GPU. But due to less number of cores and serial operation, the process is comparatively slow as well as less efficient.

A GPU offers high throughput whereas the overall focus of the CPU is on offering low latency. High throughput basically means the ability of the system to process a large amount of instruction in a specified/less time. While low latency of CPU shows that it takes less time to initiate the next operation after the completion of recent task.

Key Differences Between CPU and GPU

  1. A CPU has less number of cores that are mainly programmed at a clock frequency of about 2–3 GHz each. While thousands of cores are present in a single GPU chip clocked at a frequency of about 1 GHz.
  2. A central processing unit offers to handle various operations like calculating, watching movies, making presentation etc. While a graphics processing unit is majorly used for the purpose of video rendering or playing of high-quality graphical games.
  3. Due to the presence of less number of cores CPU does not support the parallel operation of data. Whereas a high number of cores supports parallel data operation in case of GPU.
  4. The processing speed of CPU is low. Whereas GPU offers comparatively high processing speed as compared to CPU.
  5. The memory requirement of a central processing unit is comparatively high than the memory requirement of the graphics processing unit.
  6. A CPU can execute the operation of GPU with the low operating speed. However, the operations performed by the CPU are solely centralized to be operated by it and hence a GPU cannot replace it.


So from the above discussion, it is clear that a system comprising of both CPU and GPU provides fast results. This is so because both hold efficiency in their respective field of operation.

2 thoughts on “Difference Between CPU and GPU”

  1. Thanks for this informative post. My all doubts are cleared which were regarding GPU and CPU. I appreciate your work. Thanks a lot for this information.

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