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[Makan] Read All About Mobile's SoC Here! Review, Specs and More!

2017-05-02 22:56:00
1342 1

Dear Fellow Mi Fans!

As we all known, Xiaomi released it first inhouse developed System-on-Chip (SoC or SOC), Pinecone Surge, on the 28th Feb 2017, together with the Mi 5c (sadly, it never reached our shores, But then Always believe something good is about to happen!) Well, for details of the Pinecone Surge S1 SoC, read all about it

So, how much do you exactly know about SoC? How many SoC are there out there? How does it compare to each other? Let me give a short introduction & lesson.

Reference: SOURCE

So what is a System on a Chip (SoC / SOC )? It is an integrated circuit (IC) that integrates all components of a computer or other electronic system into a single chip. It may contain digital, analog, mixed-signal, and often radio-frequency functions—all on a single chip substrate. SoCs are very common in the mobile computing market because of their low power-consumption. It typically consists of the followings;

  • a microcontroller, microprocessor or digital signal processor (DSP) core – multiprocessor SoCs (MPSoC) having more than one processor core
  • memory blocks including a selection of ROM, RAM, EEPROM and flash memory
  • timing sources including oscillators and phase-locked loops
  • peripherals including counter-timers, real-time timers and power-on reset generators
  • external interfaces, including industry standards such as USB, FireWire, Ethernet, USART, SPI
  • analog interfaces including ADCs and DACs
  • voltage regulators and power management circuits

Credit: By en:User:Cburnett - Own work in Inkscape based on en:Image:ARMSoCBlockDiagram.gif, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A SoC consists of both the hardware, described above, and the software controlling the microcontroller, microprocessor or DSP cores, peripherals and interfaces. A design flow for a SoC aims to develop this hardware and software in parallel, in the event a bug is found, it is feedbacked and designers will re-look into the design, if it is need to be changed. SoCs can be fabricated by several technologies, including:
  • Full custom
  • Standard cell
  • Field-programmable gate array (FPGA)

SoC designs usually consume less power and have a lower cost and higher reliability than the multi-chip systems that they replace. And with fewer packages in the system, assembly costs are reduced as well.


There are 3 type of SoC's architecture, as follows;
  • ARM
  • MIPS
  • x86/x86-64

In modern smart /mobile devices applications, the ARM-based SoC is one the most commonly used, and mainly touched on the ARM-based SoC.

1. ARM

ARM, originally Acorn RISC Machine, later Advanced RISC Machine, is a family of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors, configured for various environments. British company ARM Holdings develops the architecture and licenses it to other companies, who design their own products that implement one of those architectures—​​including systems-on-chips (SoC) that incorporate memory, interfaces, radios, etc. It also designs cores that implement this instruction set and licenses these designs to a number of companies that incorporate those core designs into their own products.


MIPS (originally an acronym for Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipeline Stages) is a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA) developed by MIPS Technologies (formerly MIPS Computer Systems, Inc.). The early MIPS architectures were 32-bit, with 64-bit versions added later. Multiple revisions of the MIPS instruction set exist, including MIPS I, MIPS II, MIPS III, MIPS IV, MIPS V, MIPS32, and MIPS64. The current revisions are MIPS32 (for 32-bit implementations) and MIPS64 (for 64-bit implementations). MIPS32 and MIPS64 define a control register set as well as the instruction set.


x86 is a family of backward compatible instruction set architectures based on the Intel 8086 CPU and its Intel 8088 variant. The 8086 was introduced in 1978 as a fully 16-bit extension of Intel's 8-bit based 8080 microprocessor, with memory segmentation as a solution for addressing more memory than can be covered by a plain 16-bit address. The term "x86" came into being because the names of several successors to Intel's 8086 processor end in "86", including the 80186, 80286, 80386 and 80486 processors.

Many additions and extensions have been added to the x86 instruction set over the years, almost consistently with full backward compatibility. The architecture has been implemented in processors from Intel, Cyrix, AMD, VIA and many other companies; there are also open implementations, such as the Zet SoC platform.

while the x86-64 (also known as x64, x86_64 and AMD64[note 1]) is the 64-bit version of the x86 instruction set. It supports vastly larger amounts (theoretically, 264 bytes or 16 exabytes) of virtual memory and physical memory than is possible on its 32-bit predecessors, allowing programs to store larger amounts of data in memory. x86-64 also provides 64-bit general-purpose registers and numerous other enhancements. It is fully backward compatible with 16-bit and 32-bit x86 code. Because the full x86 16-bit and 32-bit instruction sets remain implemented in hardware without any intervening emulation, existing x86 executables run with no compatibility or performance penalties, whereas existing applications that are recoded to take advantage of new features of the processor design may achieve performance improvements.

The original specification, created by AMD and released in 2000, has been implemented by AMD, Intel and VIA. The AMD K8 processor was the first to implement the architecture; this was the first significant addition to the x86 architecture designed by a company other than Intel. Intel was forced to follow suit and introduced a modified NetBurst family which was fully software-compatible with AMD's design and specification. VIA Technologies introduced x86-64 in their VIA Isaiah architecture, with the VIA Nano.


There are many different types of ARM-based SoC out in the market now, namely;
  • Allwinner
  • Ax
  • Exynos
  • i.MX
  • K3V3
  • MediaTek
  • Nomadik
  • NovaThor
  • OMAP
  • Rockchip
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon
  • Tegra
  • WonderMedia

We are of course very familiar with the Qualcomm Snapdragon (widely used in Mi devices and later used in Redmi devices), MediaTek (commonly used in Redmi devices), and Tegra SoC (used in Mi Pad). While other popular ARM-based SoC's are the Ax- series, the Exynos series, the K3V3 series (which you might know it as 'Kirin'). Let us take a look at the more popular SoC's out there.

Ax Series SoC

Apple Inc. has developed a range of "System on Chip" (SoC) as well as "System in Package" (SiP) mobile application processors for powering their mobile consumer devices. To meet the stringent power and space constraints common to mobile devices, these chips combine a central processing unit (CPU) with other components into a single compact physical package. Johny Srouji is the executive in charge of Apple's silicon design.

Prior to the introduction of the Apple "A" series of SoCs, Apple used several SoCs in early revisions of the iPhone and iPod Touch. They were specified by Apple and manufactured by Samsung. They integrate a single ARM-based processing core (CPU), a graphics processing unit (GPU), and other electronics necessary to provide mobile computing functions within a single physical package.

  • The APL0098 (also 8900B or S5L8900) is a package on package (PoP) system on a chip (SoC) that was introduced on June 29, 2007 at the launch of the original iPhone. It includes a 412 MHz single-core ARM11 CPU and a PowerVR MBX Lite GPU. It is manufactured by Samsung on a 90 nm process.
  • The APL0278(also S5L8720) is a package on package (PoP) system on a chip (SoC) that was introduced on September 9, 2008 at the launch of the second generation iPod touch. It includes a 533 MHz single-core ARM11 CPU and a PowerVR MBX Lite GPU. It is manufactured by Samsung on a 65 nm process.
  • The APL0298 (also S5L8920) is a package on package (PoP) system on a chip (SoC) that was introduced on June 8, 2009 at the launch of the iPhone 3GS. It includes a 600 MHz single-core Cortex-A8 CPU and a PowerVR SGX535 GPU. It is manufactured by Samsung on a 65 nm process. A 45 nm die shrunk version of this SoC, the APL2298 (also S5L8922), was introduced on September 9, 2009 at the launch of the third generation iPod touch.

The Apple "Ax" series is a family of "Systems on Chip" (SoC) used in the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple TV. They integrate one or more ARM-based processing cores (CPU), a graphics processing unit (GPU), cache memory and other electronics necessary to provide mobile computing functions within a single physical package. They are designed by Apple, and manufactured by Samsung and TSMC.

Source: Wikipedia

Exynos Series SoC

Exynos is a series of ARM-based System-on-Chips (SoCs) developed and manufactured by Samsung Electronics and is a continuation of Samsung's earlier S3C, S5L and S5P line of SoCs.
  • In 2010, Samsung launched the S5PC110 (now Exynos 3 Single) in its Samsung Galaxy S mobile phone, which featured a licensed ARM Cortex-A8 CPU.
  • On 26 April 2012, Samsung released the Exynos 4 Quad, which powers the Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II.The Exynos 4 Quad SoC uses 20% less power than the SoC in Samsung Galaxy SII. Samsung also changed the name of several SoCs, Exynos 3110 to Exynos 3 Single, Exynos 4210 and 4212 to Exynos 4 Dual 45 nm, and Exynos 4 Dual 32 nm and Exynos 5250 to Exynos 5 Dual.
  • On 30 November 2011, Samsung released information about their upcoming SoC with a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU, which was initially named "Exynos 5250" and was later renamed to Exynos 5 Dual. This SoC has a memory interface providing 12.8 GB/s of memory bandwidth, support for USB 3.0 and SATA 3, can decode full 1080p video at 60 fps along with simultaneously displaying WQXGA-resolution (2560x1600) on a mobile display as well as 1080p over HDMI.
  • On 29 September 2011, Samsung introduced Exynos 4212as a successor to the 4210; it features a higher clock frequency and "50 percent higher 3D graphics performance over the previous processor generation". Built with a 32 nm High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) low-power process; it promises a "30 percent lower power-level over the previous process generation."
  • In early 2011, Samsung first launched the Exynos 4210 SoC in its Samsung Galaxy S II mobile smartphone. The driver code for the Exynos 4210 was made available in the Linux kernel and support was added in version 3.2 in November 2011.

Source: Wikipedia

K3V3 Series SoC
HiSilicon (Chinese: 海思; pinyin: Hǎisī) is a Chinese fabless semiconductor company based in Shenzhen, Guangdong and fully owned by Huawei.
  • HiSilicon purchased licenses from ARM Holdings for at least ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore, ARM Cortex-M3, ARM Cortex-A7 MPCore, ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore,ARM Cortex-A53, ARM Cortex-A57 and also for their Mali graphics cores.
  • HiSilicon also purchased licenses from Vivante Corporation for their GC4000 graphics core.

HiSilicon is reputed to be the largest domestic designer of integrated circuits in China.

Source: Wikipedia

MediaTek SoC
MediaTek Inc. (Chinese: 聯發科技股份有限公司; pinyin: Liánfā Kējì Gǔfèn Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī) is a Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company that provides system-on-chip solutions for wireless communications, HDTV, DVD and Blu-ray.Headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan, the company has 25 offices worldwide and was the 4th largest fabless IC designer worldwide in 2013. Since its founding in 1997, MediaTek has been creating chipset solutions for the global market. MediaTek also provides its customers with reference designs.

Source: Wikipedia

Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC

Snapdragon is a suite of system on a chip (SoC) semiconductor products designed and marketed by Qualcomm for mobile devices. The Snapdragon central processing unit (CPU) uses the ARM RISC instruction set, and a single SoC may include multiple CPU cores, a graphics processing unit (GPU), a wireless modem, and other software and hardware to support a smartphone's global positioning system (GPS), camera, gesture recognition and video. Snapdragon semiconductors are embedded in devices of various systems, including Google Android mobile and Windows Phone devices. They are also used for netbooks, in cars, wearable devices and other devices.


Now. let take a look at the performance of the various ARM-based SoC's, based on the official benchmark scores released by AnTuTu.


We can see the Qualcomm's Snapdragon SoC (e.g. SD 820/821) are among the Top 10 performance charts, and no doubts it is the preferred choice of manufacturer's flagship device. (The Mi 5, which is ranked among the Top 10 Most popular device globablly, is powered  by the SD 820 SoC. While, the Mi 5s, 5s+, Note 2, MIX are powered by the SD 821 SoC.). WIth the latest Qualcomm's Snapdragon flagship (SD835), let wait to see how does the Mi 6 will perform and ranked among other devices!

So, what is your favoriate SoC?

2017-05-02 22:56:00
Favorites RateRate
Really informative!!!
2017-05-31 14:04:38
¡Comenta, vota, crea temas y diviertete!
Ivttan :D
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