The GPU, otherwise known as the graphics processing unit, acts as the processor of a PC video card. The GPU’s relationship with the video card is comparable to that shared between the CPU and the computer.
The GPU is usually integrated into the computer motherboard, but more powerful ones are usually incorporated in dedicated video cards. The GPU contains a graphics chip that allows PC video cards to render and display graphics and images. The processing power of the graphics chip determines the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the GPU and the video card.
Nvidia, ATI and Intel are the three leading GPU manufacturers worldwide.
Founded in 1993, Nvidia has firmly established itself as a world leader in GPU production. Its brand name products include the GeForce graphics cards for both desktop PCs and notebook computers. Nvidia also developed the SLI (Scalable Link Interface) technology which permits a computer to run two to four PC video cards simultaneously. Nvidia is headquartered in Santa Clara, California.
ATI began as ATI Technologies Inc. in 1985. The company was absorbed by Advanced Micro Devices in 2006 and renamed ATI Technologies ULC. ATI and Nvidia are tough competitors with product line-ups that are at par with each other. When Nvidia released its SLI technology in 2004, ATI was quick to counter Nvidia’s SLI video cards with its own CrossFire video cards.
Intel is a large PC company whose products span CPUs, motherboards, PC video cards and other electrical hardware. Intel’s Graphics Media Accelerators are commonly integrated on many motherboards, permitting computers to display graphics without the aid of a separate dedicated video card. Based in Santa Clara, California, Intel is neighbors with Nvidia.
When it comes to integrated graphics, Intel rules. For powerful dedicated PC video cards, computer users will most probably make a choice between Nvidia and ATI.