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Hardware acceleration

(also hardware offloading, hardware-assisted acceleration)

Hardware acceleration definition

Hardware acceleration is the process of offloading certain computing tasks from the central processing unit (CPU) onto specialized hardware components, improving performance, efficiency, and user experience. These components can include a graphics processing unit (GPU), application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), or field-programmable gate array (FPGA).

See also: parallel processing, hardware identification

Examples of hardware acceleration

  • Graphics processing. It runs the graphics exclusively through the GPU. As a result, GPUs accelerate tasks related to rendering images, videos, and animations, which can significantly improve the performance and smoothness of video playback, gaming, and other multimedia applications.
  • Video encoding and decoding. Hardware acceleration can speed up compressing and decompressing of video files, delivering faster video conversion times and smoother video streaming.
  • Sound processing. The sound may not take up too much of the computer processing power, but it still requires constant computing. To mitigate that, the hardware acceleration process runs all sound processing tasks via the sound card, which frees up computing power for other tasks.
  • Cryptocurrency mining. ASICs can perform the required crypto calculations more efficiently than CPUs or GPUs, resulting in higher mining performance and lower energy consumption.
  • Digital signal processing. Digital signal processing is a background task that would take up unnecessary amounts of computing power if not for the hardware acceleration process. This method processes digital signals exclusively through a digital signal processor, improving overall device efficiency.