os that rather uses the gpu?

Florin Andrei florin at andrei.myip.org
Wed Jul 14 19:45:48 UTC 2010

On 07/13/2010 01:46 PM, Jozsi Avadkan wrote:
> Does someone know a distribution/operating system, that rather uses the
> GPU for "working", not the CPU? [by default]

This doesn't work the way you think it does.

GPUs were designed originally for accelerating 3D scenes. They've grown 
more complex recently, but they still betray their origin. They are 
**much** faster than CPUs for simple operations, but they can't do 
complex things like a CPU.

So, basically, a GPU can do lots of simple things really fast, while a 
CPU can do either simple or more complex things, but at a slower speed. 
Speed or complexity, pick one.

There are currently very few applications other than 3D games that can 
use the GPU to speed up their operations. Even those that do, only use 
the GPU for a restricted set of tasks, not for everything.

Internet Explorer 9 (not released yet to the general public) uses the 
GPU to accelerate a few things. Anyway, only works on Windows.


There are some password cracking apps that use the GPU to accelerate 
cracking. I don't think they run on Linux IIRC.


There are video encoders that use the GPU to accelerate encoding. The 
examples I've heard of are fast but not high-quality.


Folding @ Home has GPU clients, but those are Windows-only.


Beyond that, it's mostly just 3D games. But an OS as a whole to use the 
GPU? Haven't heard of such a thing and I don't think it's feasible today.

I think the trend will continue, more and more apps will figure out 
there's a very fast but simple computing unit available, so duh! why not 
use it? But currently the GPUs have certain limitations that prevent 
them from being used for *everything*.

Some people say the CPUs and GPUs are on a merging path and the future 
will bring us hybrid processors that do complex things (like a CPU) 
really fast (like a GPU), see a few examples:

- Intel's Larrabee project (now dead)


- AMD's attempts to push the CPU and the GPU closer together (after 
their acquisition of ATI)

- NVidia increasing the complexity of their GPUs all the time (like with 
the Tesla architecture now released to the masses with GeForce GTX 460 
which is cheap and fast)

Fun times. :)

Florin Andrei

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