A system-on-chip (SOC) is an integrated circuit that combines all of the functions of a computer on one microchip. Commonly found in smartphones, wireless routers, tablets and wearable tech, system-on-chips process the increasingly complex computing needs of many small devices. 

What are system-on-chips used for? 

If you own a handheld electronic device, it's most likely powered by a system-on-chip. Their low power consumption makes them suitable for use in small applications. They may combine digital, analogue, mixed-signal and even radio-frequency functions all on one chip. 

Components of system-on-chip

A system-on-chip can include various elements, depending on how it's used. The general breakdown tends to be: 

  • The CPU – the central processing unit, responsible for inputting decisions.
  • The GPU – the graphical processing unit that allows games to be played.
  • RAM – random access memory is needed to run apps and other software.
  • ROM – read-only memory is necessary for additional storage.
  • The modem – the connection needed so you can use 3G and 4G wireless networks.

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Microcontroller ZigBee ARM Cortex, IEEE 802.15.4 Surface Mount SMT 42 - - 19mm 3.6 V +85 °C 1.8 V -40 °C 20mm