Nvidia CUDA cores are one of the ever-present entries on every specification sheet of Nvidia graphics card. Just what are CUDA cores and what do they do?
What are Nvidia CUDA Cores and What Do They Do?
Nvidia CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) is a specialized programming model and parallel computing platform that is used to perform complex operations, computations and tasks with greater performance.
They are parallel processors which work similar to computer processors. Every Nvidia GPU contains CUDA Cores. The number of CUDA cores in Nvidia Graphic cards are found in the thousands.
The higher the number of CUDA cores the greater the computing power of the GPU. Also the more powerful the graphics card the greater number of CUDA cores it has.
Several applications take advantage of the CUDA cores found in Nvidia cards. To name a few – Python, MATLAB, Fortran, C, Adobe, etc.
In gaming, CUDA cores are responsible for performing game graphics calculations that are rendered and presented visually to the gamer.
Rendering of scenery, drawing character models and shading in an environment are all examples of in-game tasks that have been completed by CUDA core processing.
Do CUDA cores affect GPU Performance?
Yes, CUDA cores affect GPU performance. Just like how in CPUs we have single-core, dual-core, quad-core, hexa-core, and threads it is no brainer that the higher number of cores in a CPU processor has the greatest performance.
The same principle applies to CUDA cores. The higher number of CUDA cores there are the greater the performance.
CUDA cores can’t be compared to CPU cores though because a single CPU core is much more powerful than a single CUDA core.
That is why you see the number of CUDA cores in powerful graphics cards numbering in the thousands.
Benchmarks have shown that the more CUDA cores an Nvidia graphics card has the greater the GPU performance.
It should be noted that to do a proper comparison they should have the same architecture.
What is a GPU Architecture?
The architecture is the way various components of the GPU are put together so that they are interrelated to each other.
For example, the GTX 1080 Ti has 3584 Nvidia CUDA cores whiles the GTX 1080 has 2560 Nvidia CUDA cores.
That is 1,024 CUDA cores greater than the GTX 1080. That alone shows how much greater performance the GTX 1080 Ti has compared to the GTX 1080.
CUDA Cores vs Stream Processors
The cores in Nvidia graphics cards are called CUDA and cores in AMD graphic cards are called stream processors. They basically do the same job just different naming by different companies.
Comparing their CUDA cores and Stream processors is somewhat difficult because they are from:
- Different companies
- They have different graphics card architectures
Benchmarks and graphics card versus videos on YouTube to a much better job at the comparison and offer accurate and realistic result. Make sure to check such information if you are looking for a graphics card to buy.
What matters most – the number of CUDA Cores or Speed of Graphics card?
If it comes down to it always for the graphics card with the highest clock speed and VRAM. These two are very important if you want to quickly determine how powerful a graphics card is.
But as I said earlier the more powerful the graphics card the greater number of CUDA cores it is going to have. The same applies to the clock speed and VRAM.
Most at times graphics cards that have high VRAM and clock speeds are the powerful ones.
The Nvidia GTX 1080 has a VRAM of 8 GB and a base clock speed of 1607 MHz whiles the GTX 1070 has a base clock speed of 1506 MHz and 8 GB of VRAM.
If you are able to afford it always go with the most powerful graphics card you can get because its base clock speed, VRAM and CUDA cores are always going to be high enough power through most tasks.
Make sure to check videos and benchmarks of the performance of the graphics cards you are interested in to give you a realistic and accurate picture of how the GPU performs.
The number of CUDA cores is always related to the performance of the GPU and the more powerful the GPU the greater number of CUDA cores it has. These two are always related.
Once you know that you can somewhat tell how powerful a graphics card is depending the amount of CUDA cores it has.
Also, powerful graphics cards have higher base clock speeds and VRAM.
Now you know what CUDA cores are and what they mean in graphics cards. No need to be confused anymore when looking at the spec sheet of a new graphics card.