The Meaning of GPU: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you heard the acronym GPU used in reference to mining crypto? This article shows you the meaning of GPU and when to use GPU.

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You might’ve heard of a CPU, but what’s a GPU? If you’re super into video games and graphic design — or you just love to learn — this article can help you get to know the term GPU and help you use it accurately in a sentence. 

What Does GPU Stand For?

According to Investopedia, the term GPU stands for graphics processing unit. A GPU is an electronic circuit or chip that is used to render display graphics on an electronic device. This is also sometimes called a graphics card. 

While the GPU was originally created with video editors and video gamers in mind, it is also currently coveted on the cryptocurrency mining market.

A GPU performs rendering, which is a process in which polygonal coordinates are converted to bitmap before being converted into signals that are shown on a display or screen. GPUs are used for this process in things like video rendering, video editing, gaming, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. GPUs have the ability to perform many calculations, incorporating accelerators into the neural network or quickly processing sets of data.

GPUs are a highly specialized chip that is often used for large amounts of specific calculations to display high-quality graphics on a computer’s screen. If you do not have a good enough graphics card, your gaming or editing might lag.

The History of the GPU

The GPU was first included in 1999 by a company called Nvidia in their product GeForce 256. This single-chip processor had an integrated transform and features like triangle setup, triangle clipping, lighting, and rendering engines. This chip was optimized for 3D gaming. 

Nvidia is still a major competitor in the GPU market, with their Nvidia GeForce GTX 8800 from the 2000s. These days, Nvidia GPUs and others are used for AI, deep learning, content creation, ray tracing, discrete graphics, 2D and 3D 1080p gaming, and other new technological capabilities.

Nowadays, PCs, laptops, video game consoles, and desktops might have an integrated graphics card on their motherboard as a part of their built-in hardware, designed for parallel operations. An integrated GPU is a commonly built-in component, but people can also upgrade their platform with an after-market dedicated graphics card.

GPUs and the Mining of Cryptocurrency

While GPUs were initially popular with gamers and video editors, they have become increasingly coveted on the crypto market with the advent of Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency mining. To mine cryptocurrency, thousands of calculations must be made to add transactions to a blockchain. A GPU can do this, which can be very profitable. 

People who are trying to update their computers to be suited for different graphics are becoming increasingly frustrated by people using GPU chips for crypto mining because there is now a lower supply of GPUs and higher prices. Some retailers have even limited the amount of graphics cards that one person can purchase at a time. 

What Is the Difference Between a CPU and a GPU?

CPU stands for the central processing unit. While this is still a computing engine like a GPU, a CPU is a more general type of chip. A CPU can handle a wide variety of different types of workloads and focus its individual cores on different tasks all at once.

On the other hand, a GPU is a highly specialized device that is highly focused on graphics processing. While these types of chips have other types of tasks they can perform, they are still more specialized than something like a CPU. 

What Are Other Meanings of GPU? 

According to The Free Dictionary, the term GPU can stand for much more than just a graphics processing unit. If you are speaking to someone about bitcoin, computer science, or engineering, it is likely that GPU will stand for graphics processing unit; however, if you are conversing about a different field, it could stand for something else. 

Reference the below list of potential meanings of GPU in order to learn how else someone might use this term: 

  • Gossudarstwenoje Polititscheskoje Upravlenije (Russian: National Political Administration; Soviet Secret Service until 1937)
  • Ground Power Unit
  • Groupe Permanent Chargé des Installations Nucléaires de Base (French: Standing Group of Base Nuclear Installations)
  • Gossudarstwennoje Prawowoje Uprawlenije (Russian: National Legal Administration)
  • General Purpose User
  • Green Party of Utah
  • Garment Production Unit (garment flammability testing)
  • Group Personnel Unit (UK)
  • Gas Particulate Unit (used in chemical warfare agent filters)
  • Germ Plasm Utilization (livestock)
  • General Postal Union (1847-1879, now UPU Universal Postal Union)
  • Genomics Policy Research Unit
  • Graphics Processing/Processor Unit
  • Ground Processing Unit
  • Gas Piston Upper (Addax, Inc.)
  • Global Pastry Uprising
  • General Public Utilities
  • General Processor Unit

What Are Synonyms of GPU?

While there are not any specific synonyms for the term GPU, there are different words that a person could use to refer to a processor. If you are trying to describe a form of processor that is not a GPU, see if this list of synonyms from Power Thesaurus can help! 

If the word you are searching for is on the top of your tongue, sometimes looking at synonyms can be very helpful.

  • ac
  • actionist
  • actor
  • aedile
  • amperes
  • amplifier
  • anode
  • answerer
  • approacher
  • assister
  • backplane
  • business
  • calculator
  • capacitance
  • capacitor
  • carbonator
  • care
  • cathode
  • central processing unit
  • central processor
  • circuit
  • computer
  • conductor
  • connection
  • controller
  • converter
  • data processor
  • handler
  • laptop
  • mainframe
  • manufacturer
  • operator
  • palmtop
  • personal computer
  • processing unit
  • processor unit
  • processors
  • producer
  • supercomputer
  • transformer
  • transmitter
  • treater
  • workstation


In summary, GPU stands for “graphics processing unit.” These advanced micro devices are graphics chips that can enhance the graphics performance on a computer’s screen and assist with parallel processing. Graphic designers, PC gaming enthusiasts, engineers, and others often use a dedicated GPU on their desktop PCs.


  1. Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) | Investopedia 
  2. GPU – What does GPU stand for? | The Free Dictionary 
  3. Processor Synonyms | Power Thesaurus