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Why is openCV so fast?

I've been using the JAVA wrapper for a school assignment, experimenting with a variety of OpenCV tools such as edge detection, hough transformation, ... The performance was always impressive.

Next, I tested out some algorithms found online. The performance was in no way comparable, it was easily 10x slower than OpenCV.

Why is that? I have no knowledge of OpenCL, is it responsible for the speed of the algorithms? Or is there more to it?