When it comes to designing a CPU from scratch, many electrical engineers may feel confident in their abilities with the right tools and knowledge. However, the task becomes much more daunting when attempting to design a GPU. Software engineer Adam Majmudar’s journey into designing a GPU from scratch highlighted the complexities and challenges involved in this process.

Majmudar started his project by delving into the fundamentals of central processor architecture, a crucial step in understanding the intricacies of designing a CPU. This initial phase involved a lot of research, trial, and error, as he familiarized himself with the core concepts behind processor design.

After successfully creating a basic CPU design, Majmudar decided to take on the challenge of designing a GPU. While CPUs and GPUs share some common aspects, such as arithmetic logic units and data registers, he quickly realized that GPUs operate differently, particularly in terms of memory usage and thread management.

It’s important to note that Majmudar’s goal was not to create a traditional graphics GPU, but rather a GPGPU (General-Purpose GPU). This distinction meant that he was focused on creating a design that could handle matrix calculations and other general computing tasks, rather than rendering graphics for gaming or visual applications.

Throughout the design process, Majmudar encountered numerous challenges that required innovative solutions and collaboration with others. Despite the difficulties, he was able to refine his GPU design to the point where it could successfully execute a small number of instructions and perform matrix calculations in software simulations.

One of the most commendable aspects of Majmudar’s project is his commitment to sharing the entire process on Github. By making his work accessible to others, he created a valuable resource for anyone interested in delving into the complexities of GPU design at a hardware level.

While designing a GPU from scratch may seem like a daunting task, the accessibility of online resources, tutorials, and exercises makes it possible for anyone to learn to program a GPU. However, delving into the intricacies of designing a shader unit at a transistor level requires a deeper understanding of hardware architecture that is not readily available from major chip manufacturers.

The process of designing a GPU from scratch is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor that requires a strong foundation in electrical engineering, perseverance, and a willingness to collaborate and learn from others. Adam Majmudar’s journey serves as a testament to the complexities involved in GPU design and the importance of sharing knowledge and resources with the broader community.


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