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Mi Max 2

[Discussion] [How it Works #8] What is a processor in a mobile phone?

2019-06-03 00:42:08
1141 67

Dear Mi Fans!

This is a new series about all parts your smartphones and how it work on device!
Almost all modern smartphones are equipped with CPU. But not all know how it work! Today you'll know more about this smartphone detail.  We will not talk about how they are produced! Let's talk about the main concepts and technical characteristics.

Many owners of smartphones are interested in what is a processor in a mobile phone and what its functionality. By analogy with a personal computer, the microchip is the heart of a mobile device. However, it is used together with other components (graphics accelerator, etc.), forming a system that performs the function of the command center and brain of the device.

The processor in the smartphone is the most difficult part and it is responsible for all calculations made by the device. In fact, to say that a processor is used in a smartphone is wrong, as processors as such are not used in mobile devices. The processor together with other components form the SoC (System on a chip ), which means that on one chip there is a full-fledged computer with a processor, a graphics accelerator and other components.

If it comes to the processor, then you first need to deal with such a thing as "processor architecture". Modern smartphones use processors on the ARM architecture, which is developed by the eponymous company ARM Limited. We can say that architecture is a certain set of properties and qualities inherent in a whole family of processors. Qualcomm, Nvidia, Samsung, MediaTek, Apple and others manufacturing processors license technology from ARM and then sell ready-made chips to smartphone manufacturers or use them in their own devices. Chip manufacturers license individual cores, instruction sets and related technologies from ARM. ARM Limited does not manufacture processors, but only sells licenses for its technologies to other manufacturers.

Now let's look at concepts such as the core and the clock frequency, which are always found in reviews and articles on smartphones and phones when it comes to the processor.

Processor architecture

For many users, it’s more than enough to know about the chipset the number of its cores. And for those who are interested in the details, I will tell you what is the concept of "processor architecture" and what it happens in a smartphone or tablet. When choosing a gadget, this information is hardly useful, but it will help to evaluate the SoC used in it at least as a first approximation.
Architecture is one of the most important characteristics of microprocessors. Thanks to the development of technological progress, the functionality of smartphones is constantly expanding. Modernization of devices requires newer versions of the "stuffing", which allow you to optimize their work. For example, increase productivity, reduce energy costs, other. Read more about the architecture in this article. However, along with the advantages of more recent processors have some disadvantages. Thus, devices based on ARMv6 turned out to be incompatible with some applications, in particular, games developed for ARMv7. This is not the only evidence that the difference between different versions of the same architecture may be the same as between completely different architectures.

Formal definition

From this point of view, the processor architecture represents compatibility with one or another set of commands, the structure and the way they are executed (games and other support programs that you use in your daily life). As a rule, it is by the set of teams, more precisely, by their number and complexity, that the classification of architectures is carried out.
Today, mobile devices use processors of two main architectures:
  • ARM
  • x86

The first one, ARM, refers to the so-called RISC type (reduced instruction set computer), which is characterized by increased performance by simplifying commands. In addition, it is very beneficial effect on the energy efficiency of processors. That is why the vast majority of mobile devices use chipsets based on ARM architecture.

The second, x86, is of another type - CISC (complex instruction set computer). It uses complex commands that are broken down into simpler ones before execution. This architecture was better known for PC and laptop processors, but their more modern models are CISC compatible with the RISC core. In its pure form, x86 is preserved in the Intel Atom mobile SoC.
If everything is more or less clear with x86, then with an ARM for an inexperienced user, the question arises: who is developing it? This company is engaged ARM Limited. It does not have its own production facilities for microelectronics, however, the Cortex processor cores developed by it are used by other manufacturers.
Here are some companies that use licenses for its development:
  • Qualcomm;
  • MediaTek;
  • Apple;
  • Samsung;
  • Nvidia;
  • Intel;
  • AMD;
  • Nintendo;
  • Xiaomi.

Familiar faces all.

In mobile chipsets, several types of Cortex-Ax are used, where the performance of the core is higher, the greater the x value. However, ARM Limited is not limited to processors for smartphones, so its cores based on ARM architecture can be found, for example, in routers or printers. There they have a different label - Mx or Rx.
The cores are constantly updated, new ones appear, and the use of old chipsets in new models is stopped.
Most familiar to you all:
  • Cortex-A15.
  • Cortex-A17.
  • Cortex-A53.
  • Kortech-A57.
  • Cortex-A72.

It should be said that the Cortex cores differ not only in performance, but also in power consumption. Therefore, in order to reduce the “voracity” of the chipset as a whole, ARM Limited proposed a new technology big.LITTLE, the essence of which is encoded in its name. SoC uses two different types of cores: top and economical. In standby mode, when high performance is not required, energy-efficient kernels are good, and if a resource-intensive application starts up, then more productive ones are connected.

Let's start with the question, what is the core?
The core is an element of the chip that determines the performance, power consumption and clock frequency of the processor. Very often, we are faced with the concept of a dual-core or quad-core processor. Let's see what that means.
The second most important characteristic after the architecture is the core. The technical parameters of each smartphone, as a rule, indicate a dual- or quad-core processor.

The kernel determines the following device operation parameters:

For three-dimensional games, applications for processing video and multimedia files, 4 cores are required. Sometimes devices use an additional 5 core to perform simple tasks ... such as saving battery power at high performance. In general, a larger number of cores not only expands the functionality of the system, but rather increases the speed of task execution. The process is optimized by distributing the load between the elements.

Power usage.
To reduce the energy consumption of the kernel, which are not used in the process, are automatically disabled.

Clock frequency.
It shows how many clock cycles the microprocessor performs during the time interval (second). The unit of measurement is GHz, MHz. The magnitude of the clock frequency is proportional to the speed of the device, as well as the value of energy consumption. In order to reduce energy costs, manufacturers put a limit on clock frequency.

The number of cores does not always decide. As, however, and their frequency. If you do not take into count other parameters, then we can say that a low frequency will allow the smartphone to hold the battery longer. However, low-frequency processors deal worse with data processing in any tasks: what’s in daily, what’s in games. High frequency solves this problem, but instead the cores consume more energy from the battery. In addition, a peculiar side effect is the intense heating of the device. Developers are now desperately trying to arrest these shortcomings.

For example, with the help of installing co-processors that will be engaged in solving undemanding tasks (one of them is working with wireless networks). And although this is not the only direction of optimization, the best solution will still be the purchase of a smartphone with frequency division of cores. Let a part of them work on a small part, on a large one. Then it allows the smartphone to change the work strategy. In normal applications, low-frequency cores will operate in order to save charge. But during the time of demanding tasks, the kernels will connect "stronger";

Dual-core or quad-core processor - what's the difference?
Very often, customers think that a dual-core processor is twice as powerful as a single-core processor, and a quad-core, respectively, four times. And now we will tell you the truth. It would seem quite logical that the transition from one core to two, and from two to four increases productivity, but in fact it is rare when this power increases by two or four times. The increase in the number of cores allows you to speed up the operation of the device due to the redistribution of running processes. But most modern applications are single-threaded and therefore only one or two cores can be used at a time. The question naturally arises, why then the quad-core processor? Multicore is mainly used by advanced games and multimedia file editing applications. And this means that if you need a smartphone for games (three-dimensional games) or shooting Full HD video, then you need to purchase a device with a quad-core processor. If the program itself does not support multi-core and does not require the expenditure of large resources, then unused cores are automatically disabled to save battery power. Often, for the most unpretentious tasks, the fifth core companion is used, for example, to operate the device in sleep mode or when checking mail.

If you need an ordinary smartphone for communicating, surfing the Internet, checking mail or in order to keep abreast of all the latest news, then the dual-core processor is quite suitable for you. And why pay more? After all, the number of cores directly affects the price of the device.

Clock frequency

The next concept with which we have to get acquainted - this is the clock frequency. The clock frequency is a characteristic of the processor, which shows how many clock cycles the processor is able to work per unit of time (one second). For example, if the characteristics of the device indicate the frequency of 1.7 GHz - this means that in 1 second its processor will perform 1,700,000,000 (1 billion 700 million) cycles.

Depending on the operation, as well as the type of chip, the number of cycles spent on the execution of a single task by the chip may differ. The higher the clock frequency, the higher the speed. Especially this difference is felt when comparing identical cores operating at different frequencies.
Sometimes the manufacturer limits the clock frequency in order to reduce power consumption, because the higher the processor speed, the more energy it consumes.
And back to multi-core. An increase in the clock frequency (MHz, GHz) can increase the heat production, which is highly undesirable and even harmful for smartphone users. Therefore, multi-core technology is also used as one of the ways to increase smartphone performance without warming it up in your pocket.

Performance increases, allowing applications to run simultaneously on multiple cores, but there is one condition: applications need the latest generation. This feature also saves battery consumption.

Processor cache

Another important feature of the processor, which smartphone sellers are often silent about, is the processor cache.

The cache is a memory designed for temporary storage of data and running at the processor frequency. The cache is used to reduce processor access time to slow RAM. It stores copies of some of the memory data. Access time is reduced due to the fact that most of the data required by the processor is in the cache, and the number of memory accesses is reduced. The larger the cache size, the more data it needs to contain in the program, the less frequent the use of RAM will be, and the higher the overall system speed.

The cache is particularly relevant in modern systems, where the gap between the speed of the processor and the speed of the RAM is quite large. Of course, the question arises, why is this characteristic unwilling to mention? Everything is very simple. Give an example. Suppose there are two well-known processors (conditionally A and B) with exactly the same number of cores and a clock frequency, but for some reason A works much faster than B. It is very simple to explain: processor A has a larger cache, therefore, the processor is faster.

Especially the difference in the cache volume is felt between fakes and branded phones. It would seem that in tsiferka characteristics everything seems to be the same, but the price of devices is different. And here the buyers decide to save with the thought “why pay more if there is no difference?” But, as you can see, there is a very significant difference, but the sellers often keep silent about it and sell fake phones at inflated prices.

So we briefly figured out the main characteristics of the CPU for a mobile phone. Every day we hear about new developments and projects, and even rumors about an eight-core processor. But today the most popular are quad-core gadgets. As they say, time will tell which chip will recommend itself better.

Thanks to Administrator!

Related thread:
[How it Works #4] Type of Touchscreen and How it Work!
[How it Works #5] Type of Display and How it Work!
[How it Works #6] Camera in smartphone, and how it works!

[How it Works #7] What is the battery in your phone or smartphone?


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2019-06-03 00:42:08
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ᎮᏒᎥᏁፈᏋ | from Redmi Note 4X


well Explained thanks for sharing!!!
2019-06-03 01:08:59
Thanks for sharing the awesome information!
2019-06-03 03:09:40

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Erdinçer | from MI MAX 2


Thanks for sharing
2019-06-03 03:15:46

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1860bodo | from Redmi Note 5


thanks for information
2019-06-03 03:44:21

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Thiefxhunter | from app


Well done! Thanks for this awesome info
2019-06-03 04:29:08

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Anton Marpaung | from Redmi Note 7


Thanks for Sharing
2019-06-03 04:41:18

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Thanks for sharing
2019-06-03 04:57:10

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ZweHtetThar | from MI 8 SE


thank for knowledge
2019-06-03 04:58:13

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jagdevkumhar | from Redmi 6 Pro


thanks for sharing
2019-06-03 05:16:31

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Sampath madurai | from Redmi Note 4


Thanks for your information
2019-06-03 05:33:34
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