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|GPU: Changes Everything
August 31, 1999 marks the introduction of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for the PC industry. The technical definition of a GPU is "a single chip processor with integrated transform, lighting, triangle setup/clipping, and rendering engines that is capable of processing a minimum of 10 million polygons per second."
The GPU changes everything you have ever seen or experienced on your PC.
As 3D becomes more pervasive in our lives, the need for faster processing speeds increases. With the advent of the GPU, computationally intensive transform and lighting calculations were offloaded from the CPU onto the GPU—allowing for faster graphics processing speeds. This means all scenes increase in detail and complexity without sacrificing performance. In essence, the GPU gives you truly stunning realism for free.
The difficulty in virtual representations of the real world is robustly mimicking how objects interact with one another and their surroundings, due to the intense, split-second computations needed to process all the variables. Once, the process's bottleneck freed up the CPU's resources. Now, that does not apply.