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Even a standard processor these days is quite heterogeneous.

  • There are conventional CPU cores, but within those cores there's support for enhanced throughput via SIMD instructions and also domain-specific instructions to accelerate certain operations, such as AES instructions for encryption.
  • There is an integrated graphics processors, containing a collection of multi-threaded GPU cores.
  • The graphics processor has fixed-function components for graphics tasks, like rasterization and texture mapping.
  • The graphics processor also have fixed function components for media: the most notable would be audio encode/decode and video encode/decode

Historically, integrated GPUs weren't able to play 3D games or run graphically intensive programs and even modern ones usually only handle 2D graphics and "low stress" 3D graphics.

Another issue is that integrated GPUs have to compete for the already relatively slow system RAM with the CPU since they usually have minimal or no dedicated video memory. According to wikipedia, integrated GPUs can have up to 29.856 GB/s of memory bandwidth from system RAM, however dedicated graphics cards can have up to 264 GB/s of bandwidth between their RAM and the GPU core.