CUDA Cores in Video Cards

CUDA Cores Explained

CUDA, an acronym for Compute Unified Device Architecture, is a technology developed by Nvidia that accelerates GPU computation processes.

With CUDA, researchers and software developers can send C, C++, and Fortran code directly to the GPU without using assembly code. This lets them take advantage of parallel computing in which thousands of tasks, or threads, are executed simultaneously.

Information on CUDA Cores

You may have seen the term CUDA when shopping for an Nvidia video card. If you look at the packaging of such a card or read video card reviews, you'll often see a reference to the number of CUDA cores.

CUDA cores are parallel processors similar to a processor in a computer, which may be a dual or quad-core processor. Nvidia GPUs, however, may have several thousand cores. These cores are responsible for various tasks that allow the number of cores to relate directly to the speed and power of the GPU.

Since CUDA cores are responsible for dealing with all the data that moves through a GPU, the cores handle things like the graphics in video games for situations such as when characters and scenery are loading.

Applications can be built to take advantage of the increased performance offered by CUDA cores. You can see a list of these applications on Nvidia's GPU Applications page.

CUDA cores are similar to AMD's Stream processors; they're just named differently. However, you cannot equate a 300 CUDA Nvidia GPU with a 300 Stream Processor AMD GPU.

Choosing a Video Card With CUDA

The higher number of CUDA cores typically means that the video card provides faster performance overall. However, the number of CUDA cores is only one of several things to consider when choosing a video card.

Nvidia offers a range of cards that feature as few as 8 CUDA cores, like in the GeForce G100, to as many as 5,760 CUDA cores in the GeForce GTX TITAN Z.

Graphics cards that have Tesla, Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell, or Pascal architecture support CUDA.