“GPU” Moves Closer to Being “General Processing Unit”

Image of audio test
(Audio reactive sphere by Andreas Köberle.)

For years it has been possible to write general purpose code for those data crunching cards almost all of us have in our devices by using tools like NVIDIA’s CUDA and OpenCL, but that power is rarely applied to non-graphical tasks except in high performance computing.

This article passed my attention many weeks ago, but I only recently came to read it. Two researchers implemented a finite difference simulation of a cymbal-like instrument which runs on a Mac’s GPU.

Yes. It is hardly common to reach the upper limits of the CPU resource in audio these days, and  according to the authors that might be due in part to the GPU. “…the GPU has been used to ease the load on the CPU, caused by the computational complexity of generating and processing many sounds simultaneously.” Mixing multiple buffers of audio audio on the GPU is a natural fit. But they have shown that’s not all it can do well.

Their GPU ran higher resolution simulations without dropouts than even the latest i7 chips available to them. The 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 maxed out at 65% of what the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M could do before dropouts occurred. This performance is achieved despite the fact that “Realtime finite difference synthesis … is arguably not an efficient use of the GPU”.

What computations will you be offloading to the GPU?

Jason Bagley

Jason Bagley

Jason is a Senior Software Engineer at Art & Logic. He enjoys exploring far and wide in the digital realm.
Jason Bagley

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    • jbagley4al

      One of the happy days at work was when I was tasked with implementing Perlin noise for a project. Unfortunately, I can’t see his demo. My MacPro’s graphics card is too old to run WebGL. I was doing a poor man’s Perlin planet creation using that code to generate some noise and masking it with a circle shape. Voilå, Start Trek Genesis.

      • bgporter

        Awesome — last month I finally sat my son down to watch Wrath of Khan with my son (who didn’t understand why I didn’t enjoy Star Trek Into Darkness as much as he did).

  1. forresto

    I’m looking forward to bending my brain with GPGPU concepts on the web with http://www.khronos.org/webcl/