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At the heart of a mobile phone is an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) to do all the necessary complex signal processing, communications protocols, and applications. Mobile devices have always pushed the limits of what is possible with silicon technology. A device for an LTE phone will roughly double the complexity of the generation that went before, measured by the number of computing operations required per second. At the same time, the costs of designing and fabricating a new chip using the latest processes are increasing exponentially. Cellular modems have always tended to use conventional processor cores but to surround these with dedicated hardware for the very high speed signal processing needed, especially for broadband wireless systems such as HSPA and LTE.
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