The biggest advancements in technology today are happening in mobile. Smartphones and tablets are getting closer to notebooks and desktops in terms of performance and speed. The unsung heroes of this revolution are the mobile processors that power these devices. Here’s a primer on mobile processors and what they can do.
Mobile processors are tinier than postage stamps yet are the integrated chips that power all the calling, texting, web surfing, apps, graphics and various radios as well as some of the graphics. Today’s mobile processors come in dual-core, quad-core and even 5-core configurations with the 5th core used to better manage battery life. Let’s take a quick look at some of the more prevalent mobile processors in the market today.
NVIDIA Tegra 3
NVIDIA is at the forefront of mobile processor development. Their Tegra 3 processor is the powerhouse behind such modern classics as the Google Nexus 7, the flagship HTC One X, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime and the Acer Iconia Tab A510 to name a few.
The Tegra 3 features a Super 4-PLUS-1 Quad Core with 5th Battery Saver Core - Four plus one refers to Tegra 3’s quad CPU cores, plus the 5th, battery-saver CPU core. This Variable SMP architecture enables four performance cores to be used for max burst, when needed, with each core independently and automatically enabled and disabled based on workload. Certain mobile operating systems like Google Android Jelly Bean are just starting to take advantage of this processing power and developers still have to tune their apps for this setup
The single battery-saver core (or companion core) handles low-power tasks like active standby, music, and video, and is transparent to the OS and applications. Using the Nexus 7 for over a month now I can attest that the power management is better than earlier Android tablets that I have used so this feature works.
Being a graphics chip manufacturer ensures that NVIDIA also enables great graphics on their chips and the Tegra 3 is considered one of the better portable gaming chips. The company even curates it’s own collection of games for the Tegra 3 called http://www.tegrazone.com/.
If you haven’t heard of Samsung’s Exynos processor just consider that the most popular smartphones in the world run on its architecture. Apple’s A4, A5 and A5X chips that power all iOS devices are derived from the Exynos processor. These are ARM-based SoC (Systems on a Chip) which means they are designed to be powerful enough to run most functions on one chip.
The latest Exynos chips run most of the Samsung smartphones, tablets and phablets in the market today. Samsung built the Exynos 4 Quad, using 32nm HKMG low power process allows for increased power-efficient in your favorite mobile device. How amazing! Exynos 4 Quad shows twice better CPU performance, while consuming 20% less power than the previous Exynos generation developed on 45nm. Just like with desktop processors, the key is improving power while reducing size and power consumption which is something Samsung has proven to do extremely well.
Another monster mobile processor maker is Qualcomm whose Snapdragon chips are featured in BlackBerry 7 OS devices, Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 7 devices as well as various Android smartphones among many others.
Widely regarded as the standard bearer for mobile chipsets, Snapdragon processors are used in over 340 mobile devices and offer a good balance of power, economy and graphics performance. They are serious about their gaming too and even hold the Snapdragon World Gaming challenge.
Compared to its competitors, Snapdragon SoCs include the modem for cellular communication on-die. As such, they do not require a separate external modem on the Since Snapdragon S4, the majority of S4 SoCs also features on-die. All Snapdragon processors also contain the circuitry to decode high-definition video (HD) resolution at 720p or 1080p. This integration results in slimmer devices that don’t compromise on performance or battery life.
So, that’s a primer on mobile processors behind our favourite mobile gadgets.
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