22 Sep 09

Here's a really good article on how GPUs may revolutionize databases: Why graphics processors will transform database processing

This is worth a read because it gives a good overview of the potential of GPUs overall, and not just with respect to databases.  The authors also restated my thesis pretty well:

GPUs per se do not enable anything radically different from what can already be done with today's CPUs. However, they may very well be the key to an epochal change. GPUs are democratizing supercomputing the way the PC democratized computing, making an enormous amount of computational power—previously the exclusive domain of government agencies, research institutes, and large companies—available to the masses.

As for GPUs with respect to databases, here is an interesting point:

Enterprise data have been growing at a slower rate than the number of transistors on microchips (see Moore's Law), so computer memory is growing faster than the amount of enterprise data. ... The implications of that fact are tremendous: It is now possible to handle huge databases in main memory, which means that the data can be pulled in microseconds, as opposed to the several milliseconds needed for disk access.

This mirrors something I heard from the dean of Stanford's CS dept (who is a database researcher). She said that databases are no longer I/O bound since you can increasingly store all the data in memory instead of disk.

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