School of Computing Science: Distinguished Speaker Series

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
13:30 - 14:30

Dr. Pat Hanrahan
CANON Professor, Stanford University


"Why are Graphics Systems So Fast?" Over the last decade graphics hardware has become a key component of mobile and personal computers. Most programmers understand CPUs well, but have a limited understanding of GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). GPUs are viewed as specialized hardware optimized for rendering. That view is not accurate. Instead, they are best characterized as parallel computers that combine many cores, many threads, and wide vector processing units. In this talk, I will describe the architectures of different GPUs built by AMD, NVIDIA and Intel (the new Larrabee processor). I will also discuss the programming models that are used to achieve high performance on such heterogeneous architectures. The innovative combination of processor design and programming model are why graphics systems are so fast.