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Mobile Processor Basics

Apr 30, 2012

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Today’s smartphones and tablets rely on processors to carry out their every task, yet few people know how the technology works and where it’s headed. Processors are an incredibly important factor in selecting any type of computing device, including your smartphone. There is a lot to learn when it comes to processors, so we’ll start with the basics:

What is a Mobile Processor?

Just as the name implies, a processor processes instructions in order to carry out certain functions that make your device operate properly. Processors are often described as the brain of computers, smartphones and tablets because of the central role they play in the functioning of your devices.

All of the different components that make up your computer’s processor have to be condensed to fit in your smartphone, where they exist as a mobile application processor, or a System-on-a-Chip (SoC). These chipsets have to be particularly small in order to make room for the much larger battery that supplies energy to the system. Mobile application processors are found in many different mobile devices , such as smartphones, tablets, eReaders, netbooks, navigational devices and gaming systems.

Unlike computers that are plugged into a power supply, mobile devices are used on-the-go to access multimedia content and to perform other tasks that consume a lot of battery power. That’s why low power consumption is such an important feature in smartphones and tablets you use to play games, browse the Web and watch high-quality videos. Samsung specifically uses ARM cores in its processors because they consume less energy and help preserve battery life. While companies adapt their chipsets differently, ARM gives each of them a high-performance, low-power core to build on. In addition, Samsung uses its own advanced low-power process to manufacture their chipsets, making the Exynos line of mobile processors more power-efficient than others.

To help you understand the inner workings of a mobile application processor, we’ll go over the different elements within one: the CPU, GPU and other sub-processors.

CPUs and the Speed of Your Smartphone

The CPU, or central processing unit, is responsible for most of the functions on your smartphone, such as running the operating system and relaying touch-screen input. Some CPUs work faster than others. For example, a 500 MHz single-core processor handles certain information significantly slower than the 1.2GHz dual-core processor that you’ll find in theSamsung Galaxy S II .

Whether a processor is single-core, dual-core or multi-core depends on how many CPU cores it has. Processors with multiple CPU cores make it easier for a system to perform high-level functions simultaneously, meaning you can multi-task on your smartphone without sacrificing performance speed. Smartphones with multi-core CPUs allow you to browse the Web faster, watch 3D content and run applications that use advanced graphics – all while conserving battery life. Upcoming advancements in processors will lead to a new generation of smartphones that are faster and more powerful than ever.

How GPUs Affect What You See

In addition to a CPU, your mobile device’s processor has a GPU, or a graphics processing unit. This element of the processor handles graphical and visual data, so it’s responsible for displaying Web pages and 3D graphics in games. Even if you aren’t gaming on your smartphone, the GPU plays an important role in rendering the main display of your phone. Without the GPU, navigating your main screen would feel slower and the graphics would be less smooth.

There are also a number of sub-processors that handle other functions, such as video recording and camera operation, although the number and types of sub-processors vary across different systems. While the technology can be complicated, even understanding the basics of how mobile application processors work can help you make a more educated decision the next time you’re choosing a new mobile device.

To learn more about the latest Samsung mobile processors and what they can do, visit the Samsung Exynos website

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