The ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) and SOC (System on a Chip) abbreviations are used every day in the integrated circuit design industry. However, there are still a lot of ambiguities when differentiating SOCs from traditional ASICs. Some designers define SOCs as complex integrated circuits with more than one on-chip processor. Many use the term when describing ICs that have more than 10 million gates plus on-chip processors. Still others define it as ICs that contain soft and hard functional blocks as well as digital and analog components . Let's give our own definition here.
An SOC is a system on an IC that integrates software and hardware Intellectual Property (IP) using more than one design methodology for the purpose of defining the functionality and behavior of the proposed system. In most cases, the designed system is application specific. Typical applications can be found in the consumer, networking, communications, and other segments of the electronics industry. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a good example of an emerging market where SOCs are widely designed. Figure 1.1 shows an example of a typical gateway VoIP system-on-a-chip diagram.