The GPU is the graphics processing unit, sometimes referred to as graphics card or visual processing unit (VPU). Commonly used for processing imagery, it is used to handle resource intensive computations that may overload your standard Central Processing Unit (CPU). It is typically embedded within the motherboard or CPU of your standard home computer, but can be upgraded by buying a separate, graphics card. The GPU compared to the CPU, has thousands of cores working in parallel on multiple calculations at a time while the CPU works sequentially, one calculation at a time.
Application in Hacking
Although its general intention may have been to provide high textured graphics at a high frames per second, the GPU can be a very useful tool for hacking. Due to its high processing power and use of parallelization, the GPU makes the perfect candidate to crack hashes. No matter the hashing algorithm, with a high tier graphics card one would be able to calculate millions of hashes per second to bruteforce any hash table to crack the desired passwords. However, if the password is complicated enough and uses a good hashing algorithm, the time it takes to crack said password may not be feasible (see: hashes).
While other users may use their graphics card for rendering animations, playing video games, or being completely unaware of its existence, the GPU is a password cracker’s best friend. With it’s ability to calculate thousands or even millions of hashes per second it makes password cracking actually conceivable.