Nowadays, it is difficult to find someone without a smartphone or tablet (or both) in their possession, and these devices are already part of our daily lives. Some people simply use these devices without much knowledge of it, but nevertheless, there is another group who are curious and wonder how they work. This concern makes us dig deeper into the subject, and with a little search, we found that the internal machinery that runs all these mobile devices, is the Systems-on-Chip (SoC) technology.
A SoC can integrate multiple components within a single electronic chip. Generally, the modules are scattered into different circuits along an electronic board. But all this is embedded into the SoC, which brings all this technology under an element of small dimensions.
This miniaturization saves both costs and space, while providing a performance that has been exponentially growing in the recent years. Today we delve into the world of this technology to understand the reason for its success.
SoC: All in one, one for all!
An SoC is an electronic chip that encapsulates various components. It looks like a single microchip and manufacturers use a cover; usually metal, to protect the integrity of the internal components.
The magic is clearly inside a SoC where we usually find all the main components related to data processing, such as the following:
- Memory (RAM / ROM)
- Drivers (system, memory, data, programmers)
- Chips management interfaces (USB, microSD, Lightning)
- Connectivity (WiFi)
- Other circuits (power management, control systems, watches, camera)
Depending on the nature and purpose of the SoC these components listed above are present or absent or some others are added. There are many different platform oriented SoCs and therefore a wide variety of features available.
For example, the above Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC from Forbes has has a CPU with a maximum clock speed of 2.20 GHz. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM8996 CPU has a total of 4 core(s), resulting in multi-tasking with far better efficiency compared to dual core processors. In addition, it encapsulates several other modules as mentioned earlier.
Why SoC Technology ?
The industry and users increasingly seek smaller devices. Miniaturization is being echoed many times as a priority for manufacturers and is widely demanded by the community; due to the increasing smaller devices and especially light and larger batteries.
Except the ‘classic’ desktop computers, the SoCs have entered many new markets and categories. TVs, cars, appliances, home automation, sensor networks, all are products where the SoC is vital to add processing capabilities, computing and interaction with other devices. All these technologies that seem secondary and some of them futuristic are mainly highly concentrated with SoCs and all have a SoC inside.