Graphics processing units, or GPUs, were originally designed and used for processing points and pixels for computer graphics rendering. Briefly, what the GPUs did was to retrieve a buffer of pixel data or vertex data, perform a simple operation on each one of them individually, and store the result in a new buffer (to eventually be displayed).
The main API for programming the GPU is OpenGL, although similar functionality is available in DirectX as well.
Here are some examples of simple, independent operations that could be executed on the GPU at an early stage:
- Transform a point from world coordinates to screen coordinates.
- Perform a lighting calculation...