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In non-technical terms, the von Neumann Architecture is serial, it computes one thing at a time. The principal way to accelerate it is to make that CPU run faster. Once you reach the limit of Moore's Law, when transistors cannot be packed closer together, you are at the end of the line and the alternative is parallel processing which is what GPUs do.

This is, IMHO, not a good way to look at it. When Moore's Law ends, both CPU and GPU improvements end.

But first, it is simplistic to say that von Neumann designs are "only" serial. Gains in CPU designs in the last 40 years of x86 have come from both clock speed increases as well as parallelism. Clock speeds have gone from about 4 MHz to 4 GHz (gains mostly ending 10 years ago). But CPUs also have wider (parallel) bit widths going from 8/16 bits to 64 bits. And SIMD parallelism (from nothing to 4, 8 and 16 wide). And pipelining parallelism (going from nothing to several stages operating at once). And multiple instruction out of order execution parallelism (going from 1 instruction to 6 or 8 at a time). And then multi-core (and multi-thread) parallelism (going from 1 to up to 32 or 64 in a package).

The GPU style of parallelism, however, is better in most cases because it has and will continue to scale up...and most of those CPU parallelism features have mostly maxed out...except multi-core. GPUs can have, so far, several thousand simple compute units.

But when Moore's Law stops providing more transistors to CPU designers it will also stop providing them to GPU designers.

Every high performance GPU relies on a powerful multi-core CPU to feed it data.

Mike
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