GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is an electronic circuit used to speed up the creation of both 2D and 3D images. GPUs can either be integrated, meaning they are built into the computer's CPU or motherboard, or they can be dedicated, meaning they are a separate piece of hardware known as a video card. By having a separate processor, the GPU allows the computer's CPU resources to be used for other important tasks.
The term GPU was popularized by Nvidia in 1999, who marketed the GeForce 256 as "the world's first GPU", or Graphics Processing Unit, although the term had been in use since at least the 1980s. Rival ATI Technologies coined the term "visual processing unit" or VPU with the release of the Radeon 9700 in 2002.
GPUs are used in embedded systems, mobile phones, personal computers, workstations, and game consoles. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating computer graphics and image processing, and their highly parallel structure makes them more efficient than general-purpose CPUs for algorithms where the processing of large blocks of data is done in parallel. In a personal computer, a GPU can be present on a video card, or it can be embedded on the motherboard.
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