What is the difference between mobile and desktop CPUs?

CPUs are not always the same. Depending on the device in which a processor is installed, different characteristics with regard to performance, power consumption or waste heat are important. Which types there are and what distinguishes them, will be clarified in this article.

What is a desktop CPU?

A desktop CPU is, as the name suggests, usually built into a desktop PC. Therefore, heat development and power consumption play a minor role. On the one hand, there is enough room for fans and a cooling airflow, and on the other hand, there is no battery runtime that has to be taken into account, as desktop PCs are permanently connected to a power supply. In return, desktop processors offer good performance, a bigger cache and more turbo.

Intel desktop CPUs

The Intel Core i processors (e.g. i3/i5) comprise both mobile and desktop CPUs. These can be recognized by the one or two letters at the end of the product name. These include, for example:

  • K = can be overclocked (open at top)
  • S = energy savings through reduced performance (performance-optimized lifestyle), turbo mode is used less
  • T = power optimized lifestyle due to reduced equipment, often with fewer cores than the regular model
  • No letter = unspecified desktop CPU

An explanation of the structure of the processor names can be found at Intel.

AMD desktop CPUs

AMD uses entirely different names for its CPUs or APUs ("Accelerated Processing Unit" refers to a main processor with an integrated coprocessor – usually the GPU – which supports the main processor and can also be superior to him). The series carry certain names. Most of the desktop processor series also have a mobile variant, which then has the corresponding name. Among the current AMD desktop CPUs are:

  • AMD Ryzen = powerful processors of the so-called "zen architecture" for gaming and high end graphics, comparable to Intel Core i processors
  • AMD Athlon = multi-core processors with Radeon Vega graphics unit for the desktop as well as the mobile segment
  • AMD A series = entry-level processors with Radeon graphics unit
  • AMD FX series = multi-core processors designed for high-end applications, high overclocking is possible

What is a mobile CPU?

For mobile processors efficiency is more important than performance. The standing out feature is a low power consumption, since, for example, notebooks are not permanently connected to the power outlet and must therefore be able to run only with battery. In addition, they have less performance than desktop CPUs, because a lot of performance also means a lot of heat, and mobile devices offer little space for fans and heat loss. Nonetheless, thanks to modern technology, there are also mobile processors that are suitable for 4K gaming and other high-performance applications.

Intel Mobile CPUs

The Intel Mobile processors include the following series:

  • Intel Atom = range of microprocessors and system-on-chips (SoC) for low-cost and energy-efficient systems (also used in tablets, smartphones and infotainment systems in cars)
  • Intel Pentium = series of microprocessors and single-chip systems, more powerful than Atom

But even among the Celeron and Core-i CPUs there are mobile processors that are identified by the following letters, among others:

  • U = "ultra-low power", referred to CPUs with lowered voltage and TDP of about 15 W. They are mainly used in ultrabooks, where the power consumption plays a major role
  • Y = extremely low power, similar to U series, but TDP less than 13 W
  • M = mobile Dual-Core
  • QM = mobile Quad-Core
  • HQ = high performance graphics, quad core, especially for gaming laptops because of good performance, TDP around 45 W
  • HK = high performance graphics, unlocked similar to HQ, can be overclocked

AMD mobile CPUs

As mentioned earlier, most AMD product lines also have mobile variants:

  • AMD Ryzen Mobile = powerful APUs with Radeon Vega graphics unit
  • AMD Athlon = multi-core processors with Radeon graphics unit
  • AMD A-Series = for notebooks, suitable for gaming

Which CPU is suitable for what?

Typically, desktop CPUs are installed in desktop PCs, while mobile processors are used for notebooks, ultrabooks and Mini-PCs. However, as desktop CPUs are getting more and more power efficient, they are more and more being installed in laptops. In addition, the manufacturers also offer server and embedded CPUs. While the former are similar to the desktop CPUs, but offer even more power, the latter are characterized by their long-term availability.

Mini-PCs with desktop CPU

Due to their characteristics, Mini-PCs often incorporate mobile CPUs that consume much less power and generate less heat. However, many applications require good performance, so many spo-comm Mini-PCs are also equipped with desktop CPUs. These include the KUMO IV and KUMO Ryzen models for high-end graphics applications, the rugged outdoor and vehicle PCs RUGGED GTX1050 Ti and RUGGED Ryzen, as well as a few models where the CPU is even freely selectable: TURO Q87, CORE 2, NANO H110 and NOVA CUBE Q87.

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25 Feb 2020 Array ( [id] => 502 [title] => What is an Embedded-CPU? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => After we recently explained the difference between mobile and desktop CPUs, we would now like to go into a third type: the embedded CPUs. [description] =>

What does "embedded" mean?

An embedded system is a computer that is integrated in a technical environment and takes over tasks such as monitoring, control or data processing. These include, for instance, small computers in washing machines, televisions, routers, refrigerators or cars. However, we are now talking about somewhat larger systems: Embedded PCs that are equipped with a corresponding CPU.

Where are embedded CPUs used?

Embedded CPUs are mainly used in the professional environment, for example for industrial applications, in vehicles or in medical technology.

What are the advantages of an embedded CPU?

The CPUs are characterized by increased reliability, an extended temperature range and above all by a long component availability. For example, Intel guarantees long-term availability of up to 15 years for its embedded processors. The advantage of this: once an application is running, its use is secured for the next few years and the developers do not have to adapt the hardware and software again after a short time. In addition, embedded systems are often certified. If the CPUs are available for many years, there is no need for expensive re-certifications.

Another advantage is that embedded CPUs are extremely robust, since they are usually soldered processors with BGA (Ball Grid Array), which bring a high level of mechanical and thermal robustness with them. This means, that Embedded PCs can run 24/7 in harsh environments without problems. Thanks to their compact design, embedded CPUs are made for Mini-PCs and score with low power consumption.

What are the disadvantages of an embedded CPU?

With all the advantages, the question arises whether an embedded CPU has any negative properties. In fact, we can only mention the low performance here, since, as with mobile CPUs, not much can be accommodated in a small space. However, a lot has happened here in recent years. And it is always enough for the areas in which embedded CPUs are mainly used.

Intel and AMD embedded CPUs

Both major processor manufacturers have various models on offer: Intel has embedded CPUs in the Celeron, Pentium and Core i3 series. AMD offers the Ryzen Embedded and Epyc Embedded series.

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know-how
What is an Embedded-CPU?
After we recently explained the difference between mobile and desktop CPUs, we would now like to go into a third type: the embedded CPUs.
25 Nov 2019 Array ( [id] => 475 [title] => Industrial PCs part 3: The standard and extended range of temperature [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => We now know, thanks to part 1 and part 2, why metal housings and energy efficiency are so important for industrial PCs. The third part of our series is about the use of Mini-PCs in the so-called extended temperature range. Get your winter jackets and sunscreen ready, it is going to be freezingly hot! [description] =>

Standard temperature range versus extended temperature range

Industrial PCs are technically designed to remain operational and powerful at lower or even higher temperatures. In general, a distinction is made between two temperature ranges according to which the IPCs can be classified: on the one hand the standard temperature range and on the other hand the extended temperature range.

The standard temperature range

If the hardware of an industrial computer is designed for an ambient temperature of 0° to +50° Celsius, then we speak of the so called standard temperature range. Any computer that wants to be called an industrial PC must at least be up to this requirement.

By the way, did you know? We from spo-comm sometimes call our IPCs, due to their space-saving sizes, "Mini-PCs". However, all our systems in our product range meet the requirements of an industrial PC.

The extended temperature range

We talk about an extended temperature range, as soon as an industrial PC does not fail even at ambient temperatures of -20° C to +70° Celsius. You wonder where an industrial computer, that can handle both low and high ambient temperatures, could be used? Two application examples:

With regard to lower temperatures, the Alps could be mentioned as a possible place of deployment. Such as the scientists of the research team of PMOD/WRC, who specialize in climate modeling and use our RUGGED HM87 for cloud research. In the Alps minus degrees are reached quickly and snow should not be a rarity (as we heard). Nonetheless, the RUGGED HM87 has been reliably performing its work for several years, thanks to its outdoor suitability.

And what about high plus degrees of up to +70° Celsius? Here, as well, we have an exemplary use case from the RUGGED family. Our RUGGED HM87 took off into the desert a few years ago, according to the gusto of Indiana Jones. There he is lending ATMs his power. Who thinks that finest sand dust could cost the RUGGED his life, is wrong. Thanks to the passive cooling system of the RUGGED family, the enclosures of the systems are completely closed and therefore resistant against dust and sand.

Any questions? Or are you looking for a suitable industrial PC? Our consultants will gladly assist you in the selection!

##Contact us

Curious about industrial PCs? Click here for all industrial PCs from spo-comm:

##Discover our industrial PCs

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know-how
Industrial PCs part 3: The standard and extended range of temperature
We now know, thanks to part 1 and part 2, why metal housings and energy efficiency are so important for industrial PCs. The third part of our series is about the use of Mini-PCs in the so-called extended temperature range. Get your winter jackets and sunscreen ready, it is going to be freezingly hot!
26 May 2020 Array ( [id] => 519 [title] => What is the chipset? [authorId] => [active] => 1 [shortDescription] => A Mini-PC has many different components that have to be controlled. This task is taken over by the chipset. Because the chipset is such a big part in a Mini-PC, we want to explain how it is built up and what the chipset is responsible for. [description] =>

The chipset is an inherent part of a Mini-PC. The term described the chips on the mainboard that are used for the Northbridge and Southbridge.

What is the chipset responsible for?

The main task of the chipset is to control the single components of a PC and also the external periphery devices. It also regulates the data transmission between CPU, RAM and the graphics card.

Setup of a chipset with Northbridge and Southbridge

Intel has developed the bridge architecture that has established as the standard on the market. Here the chipset is divided into the Northbridge and the Southbridge. These have different functions and are responsible for different things.

The Southbridge controls the data transfer between the bus systems such as PCI and PCI express. Also the USB controller is located here. The power management and the network controller are as well taken over by the Southbridge.

The Northbridge generally has a higher speed than the Southbridge and is therefore responsible for the more important things. This includes the control of the CPU and its clocking, as well as the control of the memory chips.

System-on-a-Chip for small PCs

PCs just like our spo-comm Mini-PCs, are getting smaller and smaller. In these cases the regular setup of a chipset, as described earlier, takes up too much space. The solution for this are the so-called System-on-a-Chips in which as many functions as possible are accommodated on only one chip. In doing so, the Southbridge is a fix part of the Northbridge and its functions are integrated into the Northbridge. We already explained how that works in this article

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know-how
What is the chipset?
A Mini-PC has many different components that have to be controlled. This task is taken over by the chipset. Because the chipset is such a big part in a Mini-PC, we want to explain how it is built up and what the chipset is responsible for.