If you have ever looked at the specifications of an Nvidia and AMD Graphics cards then you must have seen the terms CUDA Cores and Stream Processors listed there. Both these terms are same in some respect but they are also completely alike if you go into the core technical aspect.
CUDA Cores and Stream Processors are one of the most important parts of the GPU and they decide how much power your GPU has. Here in this post I am going to explain CUDA Cores and Stream Processors in very simple words and also list down that various graphics cards that support them.
What are CUDA Cores & Stream Processors?
CUDA Cores & Stream Processors are also called processor cores or pixel pipelines. You have already heard about multi-core processors such as dual core processors, quad-core processors, hexa core processors and octa core processors in computers and mobile phones. These multi-core processors consist of very few cores that performs various individual tasks and increases the parallel processing and multi-tasking. This ultimately leads to better performance and efficiency.
Similarly a GPU or Graphics Processing Unit is made up of hundreds and thousands of cores that perform various complex operations and computations related to pixels. These Cores are known as CUDA Cores or Stream Processors. NVIDIA calls them CUDA Cores and in AMD they are known as Stream Processors. Generally these Pixel Pipelines or Pixel processors denotes the GPU power. More is the number of these cores the powerful will be the card is, given that both the cards same GPU Architecture. Both CUDA Cores & Stream Processors have almost same use in graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD but technically they are different. This is because of the difference in the GPU Architecture of both Nvidia and AMD.
CUDA is mainly a parallel computing platform and application programming interface (API) model by Nvidia. It accesses the GPU hardware instruction set and other parallel computing elements. The physical individual cores inside the GPU that execute CUDA API are known as CUDA Cores. Graphics cards having Tesla, Fermi, Keper, Maxwell, Pascal and Volta GPU architectures supports CUDA.
What are Tensor Cores?
Volta GPU architecture based graphics card Nvidia Titan V comes with Tensor Cores (640 tensor cores) in addition to CUDA Cores. These Tensor Cores help in AI, Deep Learning / Machine Learning and can deliver around 110 TeraFLOPS (TFLOPS) of performance. This is over a 5X performance increase over the older Pascal GPU architecture from Nvidia. Tensor Cores are responsible for evaluating large complex mathematical problems and computations.
Note: Pascal GPU architecture does not support Tensor Cores .
CUDA Cores vs. Stream Processors
It must be noted that CUDA Cores is not equivalent to Stream Processors in terms of power and number. That means two graphics cards having same number of CUDA Cores, Stream Processors, Memory, Clock Frequencies cannot have same performance. This is again due to difference in the working GPU architecture of the graphics cards. If we have two 10 series Graphics cards G1 and G2 with same memory and clock from Nvidia having 380 and 480 CUDA Cores then G2 will be more powerful because of the extra 100 CUDA Cores.
G2 > G1 (in terms of performance)
How many stream processors equal a cuda core?
If we have a Nvidia Graphics card with 500 CUDA Cores and an AMD Graphics Card with 600 Stream Processors then we cannot conclude that AMD Graphics Card is more powerful. Here to find out which graphics card is more powerful we have put them to real word gaming benchmarks. The card that scores more frame rates or fps in games will be the winner.
X no. of CUDA Cores ≠ X no. of Stream Processors
Some Important Points to Remember
- CUDA Cores are Nvidia’s GPU Muti-core units
- Stream Processors are AMD’s GPU Muti-core units
- We cannot equate CUDA Cores are Stream Processors
- GPU Architecture matters a lot along with number of Processor Cores
At last I would like to say that I have clearly explained about the similarities and differences between CUDA Cores and Stream Processors. Both CUDA Cores and Stream processors are nothing but processor cores in a GPU. Their working, functions, shape and size may differ according to the GPU architecture. If you have any queries regarding them then you can ask me by leaving a comment below.