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Why is Graphics Hardware So Fast?

Date and Time
Wednesday, December 5, 2001 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
Distinguished Lecture Series
Pat Hanrahan, from Stanford University
Thomas Funkhouser
Recently NVIDIA has claimed that their graphics processors (or GPUs) are improving at a rate three times faster than Moore's Law. For many years the performance of SGI graphics workstations was increasing at roughly 75% per year. The result is that the latest generation of commodity graphics and game chips are much faster than the main processor. The quoted performances range from 50-100 gigaflops and to approximately 1 tera-8bit-ops. This increase in performance comes along with additional functionality. The most recent innovation is programmable vertex and fragment stages that allow them to compute a wide range of new effects. Why are these graphics processors so fast? Will the future performance of GPUs continue to increase faster than CPUs? And, if so, what are the implications for computing?
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