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What’s the Difference Between APU, CPU and GPU?

These three technologies are often grouped together but take separate roles. It is very important to know the function of each and whether you need it.

So what exactly is the difference between APU, CPU and GPU?

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The Central Processing Unit, or what we call the CPU for short, is the computer’s main brain. On the first manufactured computers, the CPU spread over multiple chips. However, to increase efficiency and reduce production costs, the CPU is now located on a single chip. These smaller CPUs are also called microprocessors.

Reducing the footprint of the CPU also enables us to design and manufacture smaller, more compact devices. For example, desktop computers develop as one-piece devices. While laptops are thinning, they continue to be more equipped and some smartphones are now more powerful.

The CPU performs basic computing processes for your computer. It is sent to the CPU to execute the processes stored in your device’s RAM. It consists of a three part system consisting of Fetch, Decode and Execute stages. In general, it takes the inputs, understanding what they are and creating the desired output.

CPUs come in many variants, from energy-efficient single-core chips to the best performing octa-core. Intel uses Hyper-Threading technology to make a quad-core CPU act like an eight-core. This helps you use your CPU at the highest power and efficiency.

Related Article: What Is Thermal Paste And How Does It Keep Your Processor Cool?


Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

There are still shortcomings in all developments with CPUs. These are related to the graphic. CPUs receive input and operate in linear steps. However, graphic processing requires more than one data to be processed at the same time. The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) reduces the load on the CPU and improves your video performance.

Most computers and laptops are equipped with CPU and GPU, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, especially at lower price ranges, your computer comes with integrated graphics instead of a dedicated GPU.

Both GPU and CPU perform similar functions, but they work differently. The parallel structure of the GPU is specifically tailored to its purpose. The GPU helps the unit achieve billions of calculations per second required for gaming and video playback. The GPU is usually located on a separate graphics card with its own RAM.

It also allows the card to store the data it generates. Thanks to the built-in RAM, the GPU can create buffers and store completed images. It is especially useful when watching videos.

Since these cards are easily replaced, they are often seen as one of the best upgrades you can make on your computer. High performance graphics cards usually have a price tag. However, there are narrow video cards for the game, which offer an affordable option for every budget.


Accelerated Processing Unit (APU)

To reduce physical size and production costs, manufacturers have found ways to combine electronic components into single chips. Devices that use this technology are System-on-a-Chip (SoC) devices. In this design, all main electronics are combined in one mold. It has led to the growth of low cost computing devices and smartphones.

Because GPUs are optimized for higher compute speeds, the CPU can load some jobs into the GPU. In a separate installation, the efficiency gains from this load share will be weakened by the physical distance and data transfer rates between the two. However, the combined APU makes these achievements possible.

However, an APU does not give the same performance as a dedicated CPU and GPU. Instead, they are best viewed as a step from integrated graphics. APUs provide an affordable upgrade for those who want to update their computers.

The processor manufacturer AMD developed the APU for the first time. AMD is not the only company that combines processors in this way. Intel has also begun to integrate CPU and GPU. The only difference was that AMD released a special APU series. However, Intel and other companies have combined these with their product lines.


In this topic, we have discussed the main trading units. As you can see, there are many options for your computer. If you choose a separate CPU and GPU, you will probably spend more money but gain more performance.

Choosing APU brings the budget and performance link with it. If you are already working with integrated graphics, the APU will be a valuable upgrade that will not strain your budget.


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