GPU computing

John D. Owens, Mike Houston, David Luebke, Simon Green, John E. Stone, James C. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The graphics processing unit (GPU) has become an integral part of today's mainstream computing systems. Over the past six years, there has been a marked increase in the performance and capabilities of GPUs. The modern GPU is not only a powerful graphics engine but also a highly parallel programmable processor featuring peak arithmetic and memory bandwidth that substantially outpaces its CPU counterpart. The GPU's rapid increase in both programmability and capability has spawned a research community that has successfully mapped a broad range of computationally demanding, complex problems to the GPU. This effort in general-purpose computing on the GPU, also known as GPU computing, has positioned the GPU as a compelling alternative to traditional microprocessors in high-performance computer systems of the future. We describe the background, hardware, and programming model for GPU computing, summarize the state of the art in tools and techniques, and present four GPU computing successes in game physics and computational biophysics that deliver order-of-magnitude performance gains over optimized CPU applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4490127
Pages (from-to)879-899
Number of pages21
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


  • GPU computing
  • General-purpose computing on the graphics processing unit (GPGPU)
  • Parallel computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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