Learn the difference between SoC and CPU

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Learn the difference between SoC and CPU

Postby Apoptosis » Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:45 am

Learn the difference between SoC and CPU

Two types of processors for different needs

03/28/2013 – All of your electronic device’s architecture feature a processor. Your laptop, desktop, TV, smartphone, tablet, gaming console and of course your Thecus® NAS; all of these devices need this to perform. But of course the performance required from one or another is very different. The space available for a processor varies a lot. A desktop is not as limited in material size as a smartphone is. That is why you’ll find two (but not only) different type of processors, CPU and SoC.


CPU stands for Central processing unit. It is the brain that does all the calculation for a computer program by performing basic mathematical operations requested by the system; a sort of very smart calculator. But a CPU cannot perform everything on its own, it needs assistance. That is why when you look at a mother board, you’ll see not only the CPU, but also many small chips. For example, to perform all the operations required for a NAS (USB transfer, RAM management, graphic decoding, HDMI streaming, LAN port management, etc), the CPU needs assistance from other chips to control all of these components.

This setup quickly becomes expensive to produce as more components are required to be added to the mother board, more power is required to run it all and more heat is produced by all the components, thus requiring more cooling. On the other end, modifications and expansions are easier to handle. If more memory or more USB ports are required in the future, you can simply add more memory or additional ports as the limitations of the CPU are higher. Even changing the CPU itself is possible.


Systems on chip (SoC) are very similar to CPUs, in fact they are a CPU, but more skilled. A SoC chip controls everything a device might need to control; program computing, system fan, graphic decoding, memory, connectivity and others are all managed under the same roof. SoCs are very common in hand held device as they are compact, thus reducing the need of a big motherboard and leaving the place to other components such as a battery.

Many advantages make SoCs more popular than CPUs. Even if a SoC is bigger than a CPU, the simple fact that you don’t need the additional chips to control everything makes it a more compact option. SoCs also consumes less energy and produces less heat. Overall, they are a more economical option.

SoCs find their main limitation within expansions and flexibility. SoCs are very specific in what they can control. Therefore, if you wish to add more RAM to your Thecus® NAS, you won’t be able to. Same thing for the number of USB ports it can manage.

N2520 and N4520

The new 2 and 4 bay units from Thecus® both features the new Intel® Atom™ SoC embedded processor. This innovative technology paired with the Thecus® N2520/N4520 allows the best energy efficient combination. The N2520/N4520 offers the lowest power consumption of x86 NAS, 9W idle/14W load, with over 50% power savings. Furthermore, as no fan is required to cool down the processor, the noise level is kept to a minimum at 20dB. Ultimately the Intel® SoC promotes ultimate energy efficient characteristics. This combination of Intel® Atom™ processor and Thecus® NAS can be summed up as “pure performance and ultra-energy efficient.”

For more information on the N2520, go to: http://www.thecus.com/product.php?PROD_ID=87

For more information on the N4520, go to: http://www.thecus.com/product.php?PROD_ID=86

For more information on Thecus®, go to: http://www.thecus.com/

About Thecus®
Thecus® Technology Corp. specializes in IP Storage Server and Network Video Recorder solutions. The company was established in 2004 with the mission to make technology that is as transparent as it is easy-to-use and products that are not only the best on the market, but are accessible to experts and novices alike. Combining a world-class R&D team highly experienced in storage hardware and software development with a keen customer focus, Thecus® stays close to the market to develop high-quality products to fulfill the storage and surveillance needs of today’s world.
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