AC Team Emeritus
Android Glossary of Terms
Here are some terms that you might here while reading through blog posts and threads in the forums. For our purposes I'll try to keep the explanations as simple as possible.
SoC - System on a Chip - Integrates all components of an electronic system on to a single chip. Things like the CPU, GPU, RAM, and wireless radio (baseband) can all be included.
CPU - Central Processing Unit - The brain of the SoC (or any computer). Does arithmetic, logical, and I/O functions. I/O referring to making calls to memory (RAM) for needed information. Generally linear in nature, these do not lend themselves to calculating large textures or 3D animations. Which is why we have...
GPU - Graphics Processing Unit - A powerful processor capable of complex floating point calculations. 3D graphics are largely parallel in nature, meaning lots of instructions need to be calculated at the same time. GPU's are designed specifically for these types of calculations. This makes then perfect for 3D graphics and complex animations.
RAM - Random Access Memory - A type of memory that is able to be accessed very quickly. RAM is much faster than other types of memory, which lends itself to getting things done quickly. When you open an app it gets put into RAM, which is why it responds so quickly the next time you use it. RAM is volatile, meaning that if you lose power you lose what's being stored on it.
ROM - Read Only Memory - A type of non-volatile memory that is usually used to store firmware that very rarely needs to be modified. Being non-volatile, losing power won't cause you to lose anything stored on the ROM.
DDR - Double Data Rate - Refers to the type and speed of RAM. It gets real technical when talking about speed, but put simply DDR2 is faster than DDR, and DDR3 is faster than DDR2.
ARM - Acorn RISC Machine - Advanced RISC Machine - 32-bit RISC instruction set designed by ARM Holdings. This is not an actual chip of SoC. It's only a set of instructions to base a design around.
RISC - Reduced Instruction Set Computing - The idea behind this is that you build the CPU to do a few things extremely well. If you focus the performance on just a few things than it will be extremely efficient and very high performing on those tasks. The trade-off is that when asked to do other things it will be really slow. Software is typically designed around this, which is why we see such good performance out of ARM based chips in phones and tablets.
RADIO - What people are commonly referring to as a "radio" is the firmware that allows the baseband (actual RF chip inside the phone) to communicate with the towers and network. It can have a huge impact on signal quality, call quality, data speed, etc. When you hear people say "Blackberry and Motorola have awesome radios" that's because they spend extra time making sure their devices get great signal and maintain a stronger connection.
If you have suggestions for additions to the list feel free to PM me, and I will add the term if necessary.