The performance of your smartphone is influenced by many factors, including the operating system, manufacturer, and wireless carrier. But there’s one essential and often-overlooked element that’s largely responsible for the speed, efficiency, and battery life of your smartphone—the processor. Here’s a simple guide to how it works, and what makes an all-in-one processor so powerful.
The processor is the central hub of your smartphone. It receives and executes every command, performing billions of calculations per second. The effectiveness of the processor directly affects every application you run, whether it’s the camera, the music player, or just a simple email program. Pick the wrong one and you could experience sluggish, stuttering apps and limited network performance, regardless of carrier, manufacturer, or operating system.
When you swipe your way down a web page, you’re commanding the processor to make billions of simultaneous and instantaneous interactions. When you do something more complex, like playing an online multiplayer game with 3D –intensive graphics or capturing 1080p video, the load put on a processor can be quite immense. The ability of the processor to coordinate efficient communication between the wireless data, graphics, and memory is essential to smooth operation.
The CPU, GPU, audio and video engine, connectivity features (GPS, WiFi, FM), and 3G/4G modem are the major components of a processor that control the operation of your smartphone. Let’s take a look at what they do, and how they work together with the processor to make every action so seamless.
CPU, or Central Processing Unit. This is the “brain” of your smartphone. The CPU receives commands, makes instant calculations, and sends signals throughout your device. There are multiple ways to gauge the performance of a CPU, including checking the Gigahertz (GHz) speed under the processor specs. This tells you how many instructions the chip can complete in one second. A 1 GHz processor can process roughly 1 billion cycles-per-second. In the past, the CPU handled the visuals that were sent to the screen in addition to its other duties, but the demands of high quality graphics led to the development of another component to lighten its load— the GPU.
GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit. The GPU assists the CPU by handling the visuals. By adding a dedicated GPU chip, your phone does a much better job handling a multitude of graphics-related chores than the CPU could alone. You’ll notice the difference when you watch a movie or play a graphics-intensive game. Video won’t stutter, photo-edits appear more quickly, and fast-moving objects won’t appear pixilated with an integrated GPU. What’s more, the GPU frees up the CPU, allowing it to conserve or redirect its resources.
Camera ISP (Image Signal Processor). An integrated Image Signal Processor provides the “oomph” for many of your smartphone’s camera functions. It is designed to deliver a tightly bound image processing package and enable an improved overall picture and video experience. An integrated ISP can also be invaluable when it comes to things like instant image capture, high-resolution support, image stabilization, and other image enhancements.
Radio & 3G/4G Modem. These components control your connection to the world. Broadly speaking, the radio receives and transmits voice connections and the modem enables your phone to send and receive digital signals. When enabled with 4G LTE, the radio and modem have a high-speed cellular wireless network at their disposal, capable of speeds that mimic your home WiFi connection. When working closely with the CPU and GPU, a 4G LTE modem can deliver seamless, fluid access from your LTE network to your applications.
Memory Controller. A memory controller integrated into the processor plays an important role, as it provides a direct link to your phone’s memory. It ensures an instant connection to frequently used files and applications. This means less wait time when you call up your photo album, browse your favorite website or read your text messages.
Audio and Video. A good processor will also have dedicated processing units that handle audio and video. So the next time a smartphone is playing back your favorite music track or a 1080p video clip, a well-designed processor will have a component dedicated to each task.
The All-In-One Design
Sometimes these components exist as different chips in a device, but the exceptionally powerful and power-efficient processors have all of them situated on a single chip. When they’re grouped together onto the processor, it’s referred to as “integrated.” Bringing them closer together provides advantages for the operation of your phone, like faster communication and reduced power consumption. Old-style, un-integrated processors and their scattered circuitry simply can’t keep up. The pinnacle of the integrated design, though, is the “all-in-one” processor.
An all-in-one processor brings all of your smartphone’s major components together, improving performance and efficiency across the board by reducing the distance signals and data need to travel. Integrated processors that bring together some components but leave others isolated do not maximize communication speeds like an all-in-one.
The all-in-one Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ is custom built to include the CPU, GPU, camera, radio, modem, memory controller, and more. It also integrates voltage regulators for better power management, improving battery life even further. By bringing all of these pieces together, and being the first processor to integrate a 4G LTE modem, Snapdragon processors can provide amped up performance, improved battery life, smooth multitasking, and high-speed data. Many popular smartphones, like the Samsung GALAXY S4, the HTC One, and the Nokia Lumia, run on Qualcomm Snapdragon all-in-one processors.
The Big Picture
You don’t need to wrap your head around all of the billions of complex interactions inside your smartphone in order to appreciate how it works. An all-in-one processor hosts your phone’s most essential components, driving your music, games, videos, web surfing, email, and more. The more your processor is capable of, the more you’re likely to enjoy your mobile device.
By seeking out a device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon all-in-one processor, you can feel confident you’re getting the most powerful and efficient device your budget will allow.
Find your next smartphone powered by a Snapdragon all-in-one processor.
This story, "Smartphones are Smarter with an All-In-One Processor" was originally published by BrandPost.