General discussion


Strange use of Video Processors

By Bryan James ·
This is going to be a very bizzare question I know, but is it possible to use various cards (i.e. video cards, sound cards, etc) on board processors for actual process cycles.

Here is why I ask. I have an older machine that was my primary gamingPC a few years back that I have turned into a Server. The processor is weak for some of the applications I would like to run on it, but I don't need the higher end graphics in the system anymore. Therefore, I would like to somehow have my CPU sendsome requests to the video processor.

Is this possible or am I missing something?

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Like your thinking

by TheChas In reply to Strange use of Video Proc ...

I like, and understand your thinking.

On a practical basis, I don't believe that there is any way to make it work.

1. The GPU on the video card uses a specific command set, and is designed to process only video related operations.
The GPU command set, and the video card BIOS pretty much limits the command list for the GPU.

2. Communications: While all data busses can process 2 way communications, very few video cards are set-up to transmit data back from the GPU to the CPU.
For the most part, beyond video card identification, the GPU only sends a wait signal pack to the CPU.

3. Buss translation WILL slow the process down.
Even if you can send commands to the GPU, there are the buss translations and speed issues to deal with.
If this is a PCI card, the fastest buss transfer speed will be around 33MHz.
Unless you have a really slow system (386) the CPU will spend more time transmitting and receiving the data back from the GPU than it would take to perform the task itself.
System processes that take place wholly inside the CPU run the fastest.
Any process that uses external resources slows things down measurably.

So while it would be a great idea to implement distributed computing among the various dedicated processors throughout the PC, it just isn't part of the present design structure of the data busses or cards themselves.


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Which is a shame, because...

by GuruOfDos In reply to Like your thinking

It would be almost as good a trick as the distributed processing in the Commodore Amiga...and with a bit of tweaking of your code, GPU and SPU chips in the Commodore COULD perform one or two useful tasks not related to their intended function...

When oh when will we see a truly parallel PC?? Allegedly, the 'new' P4 Hyperthreading Technology is a step closer, but nothing that hasn't been done before....not much good for us old 386 users though!!!

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Worth a Shot

by Bryan James In reply to Which is a shame, because ...

oh well I thought it might be an interesting thing to play with. Thanks for the reply's sorry it took me so long to get back

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Open source

by zlitocook In reply to Strange use of Video Proc ...

Computing, look into the open source web pages. That is where every thing started. I bet if you ask the same question you will get many replys on how to do this, but you will need to be running an O/S like LINUX. Alot of folks look to M/S for answers but microsoft started with open source code that any one could modify to fit what people needed.

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Thought about that

by Bryan James In reply to Open source

I figured I would probably need to run Linux to take advantage of something like this but I was hoping someone would know at least where to start looking. I'm going to put some feelers into the *nix message boards and see what I come up with. If Ido find anything I will post it here as well.

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If your used to Windoes

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Thought about that

Then Lycros Desktop/LX would be the best first step onto the inx platforms as it has the look and feel of XP but with most of the advantages of Linux.

That would be the best one to start with because if you where to dive into Red Hat, SUSE or Mandrake you would lose yourself very quickly and in all probability just give up the ins as you call them do work differently and will take some getting used to if you've never worked with them previously but honestly they are head and shoulders above anything MS. All you have to do is to take the time to learn to use them. But try Lycros Desktop/LX at

It is a very good starting point.

Best of luck with Linux


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Somewhat used to *nix

by Bryan James In reply to If your used to Windoes

I have used different versions of *nix (HPUX, Suse, Red Hat, etc) for a while but I'm not really that well versed at writing programs/drivers (I'm a network administrator and don't do much with programing.) I have found a Linux community that seemsinterested in this project and I've met with some people who said they would write the software and tell me what needs to be done (if anything) to the hardware to get this to work if we do it to my machine (I've got a few laying around we can test on before we do a production mode.) It would be very specific to the exact hardware that I have but maybe if we can get it working we can generalize a walkthough and help the whole community.

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That would be great if it was possible

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Somewhat used to *nix

Since you have had some experience with Linux just dive into Deban it may not have the lattest release but it is the most stable Linux available.

But I would like to kown how you get on with this project so please let me know and what the exact bits that you are using are so I can have a bit of a play when I get the time.

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looking like more than software

by Bryan James In reply to That would be great if it ...


I'm not sure if your still following this thread and I'll e-mail you when I get a moment to breath but it looks like this project is going to involve some hardware modification as well as software. I've been looking at my Graphics card's diagrams and I can't figure out a good way to get some information from the main CPU to the GPU, oh well I do have a low voltage sodering iron :)

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Yes I still am

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to looking like more than so ...

It's only that I would be interested in how you got ti to work {if you can} as it is something different and I've never heard of someone trying this before so I'm interested.

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