What is system-on-a-chip (SoC)? - Definition from WhatIs.com


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

Related Terms


  • smart grid

    - Smart grid is a generic label for the application of computer intelligence and networking abilities to a dumb electricity distribution system. (WhatIs.com)

  • sensor data

    - Sensor data is the output of a device that detects and responds to some type of input from the physical environment. The output may be used to provide information or input to another system or to g... (WhatIs.com)

  • sensor hub

    - A sensor hub is a connection point for multiple sensors that uses a multipoint control unit (MCU), coprocessor or digital signal processor (DSP) to compile and process data gathered from those sens... (WhatIs.com)


  • Smart grid

    - Terms related to smart grids, including definitions about utility electricity delivery systems and words and phrases about smart meters and distributing, monitoring and billing electrical power.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment



    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.