Definition

system-on-a-chip (SoC)

Part of the Smart grid glossary:

Also see switch-on-a-chip .

System-on-a-chip (SoC) technology is the packaging of all the necessary electronic circuits and parts for a "system" (such as a cell phone or digital camera) on a single integrated circuit ( IC ), generally known as a microchip . For example, a system-on-a-chip for a sound-detecting device might include an audio receiver, an analog-to-digital converter ( ADC ), a microprocessor , necessary memory , and the input/output logic control for a user - all on a single microchip.

System-on-a-chip technology is used in small, increasingly complex consumer electronic devices. Some such devices have more processing power and memory than a typical 10-year-old desktop computer. In the future, SoC-equipped nanorobot s (robots of microscopic dimensions) might act as programmable antibodies to fend off previously incurable diseases. SoC video devices might be embedded in the brains of blind people, allowing them to see; SoC audio devices might allow deaf people to hear. Handheld computers with small whip antennas might someday be capable of browsing the Internet at megabit-per-second speeds from any point on the surface of the earth.

SoC is evolving along with other technologies such as silicon-on-insulator ( SOI ), which can provide increased clock speed s while reducing the power consumed by a microchip.

This was last updated in March 2011
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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