Mobile Processors

The notion of an embedded system refers to a specialized computer system that performs a fixed set of functions to control almost any electronic appliance or equipment ranging from industrial systems to DVD players and microwave ovens. Mobile devices such as cell phones, PDAs, laptop computers, specialized handheld scanners, pagers, walkie-talkies, and wireless-enabled portable gaming devices constitute a large portion of embedded systems.

The number of microprocessors in embedded systems is far greater than processors for desktop computers. Almost all electronic devices now have one or more microprocessors as part of the embedded system, including consumer electronics devices (e.g., mp3 players, digital cameras, and televisions), as well as computer peripherals and network devices such as keyboards, universal serial bus (USB) drives, printers, network switches, routers, wireless access points, and cable modems. The automobile industry consumes a vast number of 8-bit processors; each modern car has about more than a dozen embedded processors controlling the engine, transmission, lighting circuitry, stereo systems, etc.

Many embedded processors are used in machine tools and other equipment in manufacturing plants. The microprocessors (CPUs) used in mobile/portable devices are generally referred to as mobile processors, a type of embedded processor. The number of mobile processors is huge — just consider the vast number of cell phones, PDAs, laptop computers, and mp3 players alone. Mobile processors possess several distinct characteristics as
• Limited programmability—A mobile processor can only supply limited computing capability (compared to desktop processors) due to power consumption constraints.
• High I/O to computation ratio — Network and other I/O communications are more frequent on mobile terminals than on desktop computers.
• Stream data processing — Multimedia processing is indispensable on many mobile terminals; hence, mobile processors are required to incorporate those multimedia capabilities.

Just as a few types of processor families dominate the desktop computer processor market, a few mobile processor families have emerged to become the major players in this segment. Following is a summary of these processors.

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