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A system on a chip (SoC; or This article uses the convention that SoC is pronounced . Therefore, it uses the convention "an" for the
indefinite article Indefinite may refer to: * the opposite of definite in grammar ** indefinite article ** indefinite pronoun An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the ...
corresponding to SoC ("an SoC"). Other sources may pronounce it as and therefore use "a SoC".
) is an
integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of indiv ...

integrated circuit
(also known as a "chip") that integrates all or most components of a
computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, programs. These ...

computer
or other
electronic system Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. It uses active devices to control electron flow b ...
. These components almost always include a
central processing unit A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just processor, is the electronic circuit 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of individual electroni ...

central processing unit
(CPU),
memory Memory is the faculty of the by which or is , stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. If s could not be remembered, it would be impossible for language, r ...
,
input/output In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithm of an algorithm (Euclid's algorithm) for calculating the greatest commo ...
ports and
secondary storage A spindle of DVD-RW's. Computer data storage is a technology consisting of computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perfor ...
, often alongside other components such as
radio modem Radio modems are modems that transfer data wirelessly across a range of up to tens of kilometres. Using radio modems is a modern way to create Private Radio Networks (PRN). Private radio networks are used in critical industrial applications, when r ...
s and a
graphics processing unit A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a specialized designed to rapidly manipulate and alter to accelerate the creation of in a intended for output to a . GPUs are used in s, s, s, s, and s. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating and ...
(GPU) – all on a single
substrate Substrate may refer to: Physical layers *Substrate (biology), the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the surface or medium on which an organism grows or is attached **Substrate (locomotion), the surface over which an organism loco ...
or microchip. It may contain
digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology a ...
,
analog
analog
,
mixed-signal A mixed-signal integrated circuit is any integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of sem ...
, and often
radio frequency Radio frequency (RF) is the oscillation Oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparently irreversible p ...
signal processing Signal processing is an electrical engineering Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline concerned with the study, design, and application of equipment, devices, and systems which use electricity, electronics, and electromagnetis ...

signal processing
functions (otherwise it is considered only an application processor). Higher-performance SoCs are often paired with dedicated and physically separate memory and secondary storage (almost always
LPDDR Low-Power Double Data Rate (LPDDR), also known as LPDDR SDRAM, is a type of synchronous dynamic random-access memory Synchronous dynamic random-access memory (synchronous dynamic RAM or SDRAM) is any Dynamic RAM, DRAM where the operation of its ...
and eUFS or
eMMC The MultiMediaCard, officially abbreviated as MMC, is a memory card standard used for solid-state storage. Unveiled in 1997 by SanDisk and Siemens, MMC is based on a surface-contact low pin-count serial interface using a single memory stack subst ...

eMMC
, respectively) chips, that may be layered on top of the SoC in what's known as a
package on package Package may refer to: Container box. File:Railroad car with container loads.jpg, A Flatcar#Spine car, spine car with a tank container and an open-top intermodal container, intermodal shipping container with canvas cover. A container is any ...
(PoP) configuration, or be placed close to the SoC. Additionally, SoCs may use separate wireless modems. SoCs are in contrast to the common traditional
motherboard A motherboard (also called mainboard, main circuit board, or mobo) is the main printed circuit board (PCB) in general-purpose computers and other expandable systems. It holds and allows communication between many of the crucial electronic compone ...

motherboard
-based PC
architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. Architecture (Latin ''archi ...
, which separates components based on function and connects them through a central interfacing circuit board.This central board is called the "mother board" for hosting the "child" component cards. Whereas a motherboard houses and connects detachable or replaceable components, SoCs integrate all of these components into a single integrated circuit. An SoC will typically integrate a CPU, graphics and memory interfaces,The graphics connections (
PCI Express PCI Express (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express), officially abbreviated as PCIe or PCI-e, is a high-speed serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments * Serial (literatu ...

PCI Express
) and RAM historically constituted the northbridge of motherboard-backed discrete architectures.
hard-disk and USB connectivity,The hard disk and USB connectivity historically comprised part of the southbridge of motherboard-backed discrete modular architectures.
random-access Random access (more precisely and more generally called direct access) is the ability to access an arbitrary element of a sequence in equal time or any datum from a population of addressable elements roughly as easily and efficiently as any other ...
and read-only
memories Memory is the faculty of the brain A brain is an organ (anatomy), organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals. It is located in the head, usually close to the sensory organs for sense ...
and secondary storage and/or their controllers on a single circuit die, whereas a motherboard would connect these modules as
discrete components An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system Electronic may refer to: *Electronics, the science of how to control electric energy in semiconductor *Electronics (magazine), ''Electronics'' (maga ...
or
expansion card Modern EEPROM chip suitable for storing expansion card configuration electronically In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentati ...
s. An SoC integrates a
microcontroller A microcontroller (MCU for ''microcontroller unit'') is a small computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of ...

microcontroller
,
microprocessor A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip ...

microprocessor
or perhaps several processor cores with peripherals like a
GPU A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a specialized electronic circuit File:PExdcr01CJC.jpg, 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transis ...
,
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi () is a family of wireless network A wireless network is a computer network that uses wireless data connections between network nodes. Wireless networking is a method by which homes, telecommunications networks and business installa ...

Wi-Fi
and
cellular network A cellular network or mobile network is a communication network A telecommunications network is a group of nodes In general, a node is a localized swelling (a "knot") or a point of intersection (a Vertex (graph theory), vertex). Node may re ...
radio modems, and/or one or more
coprocessor A coprocessor is a computer processor used to supplement the functions of the primary processor (the CPU A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main processor or just processor, is the electronic circuit File:PExdc ...
s. Similar to how a microcontroller integrates a microprocessor with peripheral circuits and memory, an SoC can be seen as integrating a microcontroller with even more advanced
peripheral A peripheral or peripheral device is an auxiliary device used to put information into and get information out of the computer. The term peripheral device refers to all hardware components that are attached to a computer and are controlled by the co ...
s. More tightly integrated computer system designs improve
performance A performance is an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment. It is also defined as the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function. Management science In the work place ...
and reduce
power consumption Electric energy consumption is the form of energy consumption Energy consumption is the amount of energy or power used. Biology In the body, energy consumption is part of energy homeostasis. It derived from food energy. Energy consumption in ...
as well as semiconductor die area than multi-chip designs with equivalent functionality. This comes at the cost of reduced
replaceability
replaceability
of components. By definition, SoC designs are fully or nearly fully integrated across different component
modules Broadly speaking, modularity is the degree to which a system's components may be separated and recombined, often with the benefit of flexibility and variety in use. The concept of modularity is used primarily to reduce complexity by breaking a syst ...
. For these reasons, there has been a general trend towards tighter integration of components in the computer hardware industry, in part due to the influence of SoCs and lessons learned from the mobile and embedded computing markets. SoCs can be viewed as part of a larger trend towards
embedded computing An embedded system is a computer system A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out Sequence, sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Com ...
and
hardware acceleration Hardware acceleration is the use of computer hardware Computer hardware includes the physical parts of a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. ...
. SoCs are very common in the
mobile computing Mobile computing is human–computer interaction in which a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of o ...
(such as in
smartphones A smartphone is a portable device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can per ...

smartphones
and
tablet computer A tablet computer, commonly shortened to tablet, is a mobile device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations aut ...
s) and
edge computing Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to the sources of data. This is expected to improve response times and save bandwidth (computing), bandwidth. "A common misconception is that edge and ...
markets. They are also commonly used in
embedded system An embedded system is a computer system A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out Sequence, sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Co ...
s such as WiFi routers and the
Internet of Things The Internet of things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—"things" or objects—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over ...

Internet of Things
.


Types

In general, there are four distinguishable types of SoCs: * SoCs built around a
microcontroller A microcontroller (MCU for ''microcontroller unit'') is a small computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of ...

microcontroller
, * SoCs built around a
microprocessor A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip ...

microprocessor
, often found in mobile phones; * Specialized
application-specific integrated circuit An application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC ) is an integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit File:PExdcr01CJC.jpg, ...
SoCs designed for specific applications that do not fit into the above two categories, and * Programmable SoCs (PSoC), where most functionality is fixed but some functionality is reprogrammable in a manner analogous to a
field-programmable gate array A field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturinghence the term ''Field-programmability, field-programmable''. The FPGA configuration is generally specifie ...
.


Applications

SoCs can be applied to any computing task. However, they are typically used in mobile computing such as tablets, smartphones, smartwatches and netbooks as well as
embedded system An embedded system is a computer system A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out Sequence, sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Co ...
s and in applications where previously
microcontroller A microcontroller (MCU for ''microcontroller unit'') is a small computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of ...

microcontroller
s would be used.


Embedded systems

Where previously only microcontrollers could be used, SoCs are rising to prominence in the embedded systems market. Tighter system integration offers better reliability and
mean time between failure Mean time between failures (MTBF) is the predicted elapsed time between inherent failure The 1895 alt= Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective (goal), objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of S ...
, and SoCs offer more advanced functionality and computing power than microcontrollers. Applications include AI acceleration, embedded
machine vision Machine vision (MV) is the technology and methods used to provide imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis for such applications as automatic inspection, process control, and robot guidance, usually in industry. Machine vision refers to ma ...

machine vision
, data collection,
telemetry Telemetry is the or other data at remote points and their automatic to receiving equipment () for monitoring. The word is derived from the roots ''tele'', "remote", and ''metron'', "measure". Systems that need external instructions and da ...
, vector processing and
ambient intelligence In computing, ambient intelligence (AmI) refers to electronic environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people. Ambient intelligence was a projection on the future of consumer electronics, telecommunications and computing t ...
. Often embedded SoCs target the
internet of things The Internet of things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects—"things" or objects—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over ...

internet of things
,
industrial internet of things The industrial internet of things (IIoT) refers to interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices networked together with computers' industrial applications, including manufacturing and energy management. This connectivity allows for data c ...

industrial internet of things
and
edge computing Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to the sources of data. This is expected to improve response times and save bandwidth (computing), bandwidth. "A common misconception is that edge and ...
markets.


Mobile computing

Mobile computing Mobile computing is human–computer interaction in which a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of o ...
based SoCs always bundle processors, memories, on-chip caches,
wireless networking A wireless network is a computer network A computer network is a group of computers that use a set of common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interconnections for the purpose of sharing resources located on or provided by ...

wireless networking
capabilities and often
digital camera A digital camera is a camera A camera is an optical Optics is the branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behav ...

digital camera
hardware and firmware. With increasing memory sizes, high end SoCs will often have no memory and flash storage and instead, the memory and
flash memory Flash memory is an electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. It uses act ...
will be placed right next to, or above (
package on package Package may refer to: Container box. File:Railroad car with container loads.jpg, A Flatcar#Spine car, spine car with a tank container and an open-top intermodal container, intermodal shipping container with canvas cover. A container is any ...
), the SoC. Some examples of mobile computing SoCs include: *
Samsung Electronics Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (; lit. "tristar electronics", sometimes shortened to SEC and stylized as SΛMSUNG) is a South Korean multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in ...
:
list A ''list'' is any set of items. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname)List or Liste is a European surname. Notable people with the surname include: List * Friedrich List (1789–1846), German economist * Garrett List (194 ...
, typically based on
ARM In human anatomy, the arm is the part of the upper limb The upper Limb (anatomy), limbs or upper extremities are the forelimbs of an upright posture, upright-postured tetrapod vertebrate, extending from the scapulae and clavicles down to and incl ...
**
Exynos Exynos, formerly Hummingbird (), is a series of ARM In human anatomy, the arm is the part of the upper limb The upper Limb (anatomy), limbs or upper extremities are the forelimbs of an upright posture, upright-postured tetrapod vertebrate, ...
, used mainly by Samsung's
Galaxy A galaxy is a gravitation Gravity (), or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass Mass is both a property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or ...

Galaxy
series of smartphones *
Qualcomm Qualcomm () is an American multinational corporation headquartered in San Diego, California, and Delaware General Corporation Law, incorporated in Delaware. It creates semiconductors, software, and services related to wireless technology. It ow ...

Qualcomm
: **
Snapdragon ''Antirrhinum'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer ...
(
list A ''list'' is any set of items. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname)List or Liste is a European surname. Notable people with the surname include: List * Friedrich List (1789–1846), German economist * Garrett List (194 ...
), used in many LG,
Xiaomi Xiaomi Corporation (; ), registered in Asia as Xiaomi Inc., is a Chinese designer and manufacturer of consumer electronics Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics c ...

Xiaomi
,
Google Pixel Google Pixel is a brand of consumer electronic devices developed by Google Google LLC is an American Multinational corporation, multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include o ...
,
HTC HTC Corporation ( zh, t=宏達國際電子股份有限公司, s=宏达国际电子股份有限公司, p=Hóngdá Guójì Diànzǐ Gǔfèn Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī, first=t) (High Tech Computer Corporation, literally ''Hongda International Electronics ...

HTC
and Samsung Galaxy smartphones. In 2018, Snapdragon SoCs are being used as the backbone of
laptop computers A laptop or laptop computer is a small, portable personal computer File:Crystal Project computer.png, upright=0.9, An artist's depiction of a 2000s-era desktop-style personal computer, which includes a metal case with the computing compone ...

laptop computers
running
Windows 10 Windows 10 is a major release of the Windows NT Windows NT is a proprietary {{Short pages monitor
SOCC
Annual Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE International SoC Conference
Baya
free SoC platform assembly and IP integration tool
Systems on Chip for Embedded Applications
Auburn University seminar in Very-large-scale integration, VLSI
Instant SoC
SoC for FPGAs defined by C++ {{Hardware acceleration System on a chip, Computer engineering Electronic design Microtechnology Hardware acceleration Computer systems Application-specific integrated circuits