SoC

Stands for "System On a Chip." An SoC (pronounced "S-O-C") is an integrated circuit that contains all the required circuitry and components of an electronic system on a single chip. It can be contrasted with a traditional computer system, which is comprised of many distinct components. A desktop computer, for example, may have a CPU, video card, and sound card that are connected by different buses on the motherboard. An SoC combines these components into a single chip.

The primary advantage of a system on a chip is the reduction of physical space required for the system. By merging multiple components together, SoCs can be used to create fully functional systems that are a fraction of the the size of their traditional counterparts. Examples include smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, such as smartwatches. A smartwatch SoC, for example, may include a primary CPU, graphics processor, DAC, ADC, flash memory, and voltage regulator. All of these components fit on a single chip roughly the size of a quarter.

The size of an SoC is also its greatest disadvantage. Since all the components are compressed into a single integrated circuit, they are limited in their storage capacity and processing power. For example, a high-end desktop computer with a dedicated graphics card and SSD will easily outperform a smartphone from the same generation. However, advances in mobile processing technology enable modern smartphones to provide similar performance to high-end computers from only a few years ago.

Updated November 12, 2015

Definitions by TechTerms.com

The definition of SoC on this page is an original TechTerms.com definition. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, you can use the green citation links above.

The goal of TechTerms.com is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about the SoC definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Want to learn more tech terms? Subscribe to the daily or weekly newsletter and get featured terms and quizzes delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.