Although they show potential to improve ultrasound image quality, plane wave (PW) compounding and synthetic aperture (SA) imaging are computationally demanding and are known to be challenging to implement in real-time. In this work, we have developed a novel beamformer architecture with the real-time parallel processing capacity needed to enable fast realization of PW compounding and SA imaging. The beamformer hardware comprises an array of graphics processing units (GPUs) that are hosted within the same computer workstation. Their parallel computational resources are controlled by a pixel-based software processor that includes the operations of analytic signal conversion, delay-and-sum beamforming, and recursive compounding as required to generate images from the channel-domain data samples acquired using PW compounding and SA imaging principles. When using two GTX-480 GPUs for beamforming and one GTX-470 GPU for recursive compounding, the beamformer can compute compounded 512 x 255 pixel PW and SA images at throughputs of over 4700 fps and 3000 fps, respectively, for imaging depths of 5 cm and 15 cm (32 receive channels, 40 MHz sampling rate). Its processing capacity can be further increased if additional GPUs or more advanced models of GPU are used.