Even though today’s Smartphones contain more computing power than the Saturn V rocket that put Neil Armstrong on the moon, most of us don’t see them as anything more than personal devices. To us, phones store pictures, access social media and text friends — we see them as electronic monoliths and not the complex devices they really are. But when you look closer at the engineering behind smartphones, most notably their mobile processors, you’ll discover some fascinating facts that will change the way you look at your most personal electronic device. These are four facts you probably didn’t know about the CPU inside your smartphone.
The Elephant Not In The Room
Intel is the world’s largest CPU manufacturer, but it doesn’t make chips for the worlds most popular device: smartphones. Seems odd, right? Well, there’s a reason Intel missed the boat on smartphones and it’s a decision the company probably kicks itself for to this day. Back in 2006, Apple announced it was leaving PowerPC for the more popular Intel desktop CPU. It was a huge win for Intel and one they focused on while smartphones entered the market in 2007 and grew exponentially. By the time Intel realized what was happening it was too late, and now other companies have captured the market.
Making Your Smartphone Much Smarter
Who took Intel’s place while it was too busy focusing on MacBooks and iMacs? Qualcomm. The Snapdragon processor, which is now found in nearly every Android smartphone, found its place quickly as the dominant chip on the market. Apple established its own CPUs for iPhone early on, which left the market wide open after 2007 for an Android competitor. Fast forward more than 10 years and Snapdragon is as prevalent as ever, making smartphones more capable of supporting augmented reality and voice assistance. Snapdragon mobile processors also allow for enhanced camera functionality, security and connectivity.
Leading the 64-Revolution
When Apple made the switch to 64-bit in the iPhone, the rest of the market followed faster than desktops and laptops. The move from 32- to 64-bit doesn’t seem like anything to the consumer, but it means everything to developers who can create more powerful apps based on the new architecture. Forcing 64-bit into the smartphone world means that handheld devices are passing the PC in many ways.
Connecting All the Things
Did you think the world’s most powerful mobile chip manufacturer was going to stop at phones? Qualcomm may be the industry leader in connecting users to the internet, but the company is thinking beyond to the “internet of things.” It’s the expression we use to describe all the Wi-fi powered gadgets around our home, such as smart home speakers. Qualcomm says it wants to create chips that help manage speakers, lights, thermostats and more all around your home on a powerful 5G network, which is something we should be seeing in the near future.
As smartphones continue to grow and take on the abilities of desktop devices, the market and innovation for mobile CPU’s will grow too. We may be past the wild west days of the first decade in smartphones, but manufacturers will continue to battle as virtual reality, augmented reality, connected devices such as speakers, lights and thermostats become a bigger part of our daily lives.
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