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Stream Processors...?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Just wondering what exactly these are as I always see them in graphics card specifications. AMD/ATI always labels that their cards have X number of "Stream Processing Units" while NVIDIA only denotes the number of "processor cores" in a card. I assume they are the same thing?
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post #2 of 6
basically a stream processor is a special application of a SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) processor. each stream processor performs a specific single transformation to a stream of data. so each stream processor is capable of doing only one transformation at a given time. A CUDA core is a parallel processing unit. It is capable of performing multiple operations on a data stream at any given time. so basically a cuda core can do the work of multiple stream processors.
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post #3 of 6
Each of those CUDA cores is a few stream processors, which are really just simple 32-bit ALUs, linked together. AMD's stream processors can act on their own, as a few hundred to a few thousand individual processing points, whereas CUDA cores can't use those individual processors, only the group of them linked together. This is why AMD bitcoin mining is so much faster than Nvidia, because more instructions can be individually performed on each gpu.

I've heard it compared to having a few smart people (CUDA cores) working on a big math problem, compared to a few hundred people that are only a fraction of the intelligence of the smart people. The group of dumber people would be able to split the problem up and be done with it in a fraction of the time of the smart people.

To be specific, the 256 bit SHA-2 hash function that the bitcoin client uses to mine takes advantage of simple logic processes, which can be better preformed by a group of simple 32-bit ALUs. Sorry if I got a little bit off topic, but it helps to explain the pros and cons of each.
Edited by lostmage - 11/29/11 at 2:13pm
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post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Not that you both are probably still following this lol...but is it safe to say that on a comparison basis it is a personal preference, just another marketing ploy? You know, AMD can say wow we have way more stream processing units (and sound better) while NVIDIA can be like oh well we may only have a few processor *cores* but they are far more powerful than the average stream processing unit. Basically the numbers of each balance out to roughly comparable performance (within the same quality range of GPU that is)?
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post #5 of 6
Yes it is.
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post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by geek12 View Post

Not that you both are probably still following this lol...but is it safe to say that on a comparison basis it is a personal preference, just another marketing ploy? You know, AMD can say wow we have way more stream processing units (and sound better) while NVIDIA can be like oh well we may only have a few processor *cores* but they are far more powerful than the average stream processing unit. Basically the numbers of each balance out to roughly comparable performance (within the same quality range of GPU that is)?

i have a great section on stream processors/CUDA cores in my guide to nvidia gpus (link in my sig). if u still want more info you could check that out
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