System on a Chip (SoC) – Explained
The moment we purchase any mobile phone, laptop or hand held device, we always look into its processing power. This is what determines the speed of the device we are using. Tech savvy are concerned about the core factor – single/dual/multi core capabilities. We also need to consider the SoC – System on a Chip factor for these gadgets.
System on a Chip
Hand held devices – tablets and smart phones, are very much similar to a smaller computer. Each component that requires functioning a laptop or a desktop is also installed inside these hand held devices. Everything that you are able to do on your lap top can also is done on your smart phone.
What differs is the amount of internal space available. This is the amount of space that is needed by RAM, Processor and logic board. For a smart phone, each of these internal parts has to be maintained in a small size so most space could be occupied by the battery.
SoC has thus made it possible to house each of the above mentioned parts on a single small chip- System on a Chip. This is what offers the power to your hand held devices and smart phones.
Components of SoC
As we are aware of SoC, now let’s try and understand what makes up SoC. These are the components that are housed inside the SoC.
- CPU (Central Processing Unit) – May be present for both multi and single core devices. This is termed as the brain of your smart device. Most hand held devices make use of ARM technology processor.
- Memory – Smart phones also require a lot of free memory to perform all tasks, calculations and computing. These devices are also able to perform some of the most complex task.
- GPU – GPU is one of the main components of hand held devices. Smart phones are installed with best GPU so users get to experience quality graphical features. This architecture is what enables users to enjoy 3D games and virtual tours.
- North Bridge – This is one integrating component of smart phone that connects the SoC with the CPU and all other components including South Bridge.
- South Bridge – This is a type of chipset that is built to take care of all I/O functions.
- Cellular radios – This is a type of inbuilt modem like snapdragon Qualcomm for 4G LTE type of connectivity.
- Additional Radios – Other SoCs may be pre-installed with other components like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS etc.
SoC – Types
You may find multiple manufacturers manufacturing SoC for hand held devices. Each one may offer with distinct functionality. Some of the most common types are listed here below:-
This type is also known as Kal-EL and is developed by Tegra tech. this is also one of the most commonly type of SoC found in most Android devices. It is also one that powers AEP-Pads (transformer), Asus-300 Pad, HTC-1X – I version, 4X HD and many more.
Key features of Tegra-3
- Tegra-3 SoC is one that power Google Nexus- hand held device. It is equipped with 5 Core CPU- quad core-in performances.
- It is ideal for power saving mode as it uses less power when the device is not in standby mode. This offers extended battery life for your smart phone.
- The SoC is powered by ARM A9 type chip that is efficient in handling multiple tasks at the same time.
- Other components may include NB, SB and GPU, 1600 X 2560 resolution, 4 AVC video codec, etc.
Snapdragon S4- Qualcomm
This is another SoC that is used in most Android devices. It is manufactured by Qualcomm which is an American company.
- S4 is the latest version of snapdragon and is powered by A15 (Cortex) ARM CPU. It offers with HD video support and GPU compatibilities.
- It has an in built Radio modem for most tablets and smart phone devices for LTE, 4G connectivity.
- It is powered by Dual core type processor and supports GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The processor is built using 28 and 40 nm technology.
Samsung Exynos- 4 (Quad)
This SoC is developed by Samsung for all Samsung devices. This is also one that powers the latest Galaxy smart phones and tablets.
- This is very much similar to Tegra and snapdragon architecture. It is equipped with HKMG – 32nm process so the device offers with better performance.
- It offers with less power consumption so you can use the smart phone for longer hours.
- Some other features include A9-Cortex ARM CPU, 1.4 GHz 4 core processor, GPU, MP4 4-Core, HD video, 3D gaming, etc. these features make the performance of your device two times more faster as compared to other devices.
You find most desk tops and lap tops powered by Intel processor. The company is also targeting hand held devices for manufacturing SoCs. The latest invention is termed as Intel Medfield. Presently this SoC is used inside three devices – Motorola, Lenovo and Orange. It is also expected that this version will also be powering Googlerola that will be launched very soon.
- Some other features may include 32nm tech, 4 Quad core, 1.6/2 GHz processor, GPU, OEMs etc.
This is a type that is better known as Qualcomm- NVIDIA type System on a Chip. It is manufactured by Texas tech. This is one used by a number of Android devices. Some common users are Motorola, Nook, Samsung (Galaxy versions) etc. besides a number of other smart phones that are non android type also are powered by this SoC. Some of these include Nokia N9, Palm Pre and 2.
Additional features may include 2 core CPU, 2 C cortex, M3 Cores along with HD video support with play back options and 1080 Pixels.
The moment you are purchasing any Android device then it is powered by one of the SoCs mentioned above. Some of the top rated SoCs defend their features in terms of compatibility, speed, performance, Graphics, Video, Power efficiency and much more. The fact remains that before purchasing new hand held device, you need to look into its SoC features.