Why GPU mining is faster than CPU mining?

Some Bitcoin users may question why the mining output of a CPU is much different from that of a GPU.

First, just to clear things off, The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the part of the computer that does what software on the computer want it to do. It’s the machine’s main executive unit. It governs the functions and performances of all the the parts of the computer by following the orders of software and the user.

Nowadays, the majority of computers boast multi-core CPUs (almost like packing multiple CPUs in the same case, but more energy and cost efficient).

The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), on the other hand, is in charge of video rendering system of a computer. The GPU’s primary function is to assist with the rendering of 3D graphics and visual effects to free the CPU from such tasks.

Servers don’t usually have powerful GPU support as they are mostly managed over a remote interface based on texts and codes. Most mainstream computers have an Integrated Graphics Processor (IGP) inside their chipset, but they are nowhere near the power of actual external GPUs. Powerful GPUs are needed mainly for tasks that demand intensive graphical work such as gaming or video editing. For instance, the translucent effects in Windows 7, or technologies like Mac OS X’s Quartz powering the Aqua desktop. Beautiful, water-like graphical effects and animations such as the smoothly animated bulging of the Dock when the mouse is moved to the lower edge of the screen or the vacuum effects when windows are being minimized into the Dock – these are rendered by GPUs.

A GPU is similar to a CPU somewhat, but there are important internal differences that make them specific to their tasks. And Bitcoin mining favours GPU Mining due to these reasons:

A CPU is an executive

Primarily, a CPU is designed for execution and decision-making, as directed by the software. For example, if you type and save a document, the CPU’s job will be to convert your document into the appropriate file format and direct the hard disk write that file in. CPUs can also solve all kinds of math because there is one or more “Arithmetic/Logic Units” (ALUs) inside each of them. CPUs are highly capable of adhering to instructions of many formulas at the same time as well. A majority of a CPU’s infrastructures are tasked with making sure that the CPU is always ready for multi-tasking on a moment’s notice when necessary.

CPUs also have to deal with a lot of other complex things such as:

  • Enforcing priority levels and divide its priorities between user programs and the operating system
  • Creating “virtual memory” as illusions to buffer program’s performance
  • Etc.

A GPU is a labourer

A GPU is very different from a CPU, on the other hand. Indeed, a GPU can solve math problem and do “if”, “this”, and “that” and what not, too, according to specific circumstances and conditions. But, GPU’s have been designed so they are excellent at processing video and work that are less executive than those belonging to CPUs.

Video processing contains loads of repetitive work, because it is being told to do the same thing to large groups of pixels on the screen over and over again. In order to make the most efficiency out of this task, video processors are optimized to be heavier duty on repetitive work, than the ability to perform rapid multi-tasking.

GPUs have larger numbers of ALUs than CPUs do. As a result, they can do a lot of bulky mathematical labour than CPUs. In a nutshell, that is why GPUs can perform faster Bitcoin mining operations than CPUs. Bitcoin mining doesn’t need any decisions to be made – it is the same mathematical work repeated over and over and over again on a computer. The only decision making in Bitcoin mining is probably the questions “do I have a block” or “do I not have a block”. Therefore, GPUs can do it much better.

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