Mobile & TabsProcessors

CPU: What does nm in mobile processor mean?


In the world of smartphones, we keep seeing companies competing with each other to release the flagship smartphones each year while equipping latest Xnm processor . One key feature that a flagship or any smartphone must have is, it should have is a lag free, fast and efficient interface. In today’s series of reviews, we will be focusing on the speed and efficiency, the nm in mobile processors.

The “nm” in mobile processor headache

The performance of a smartphone depends on various things like optimization of applications, amount of RAM(Random Access Memory), optimization of OS(Operating Systems) and the processor/ CPU(Central Processing Unit). Let’s focus on processors.

The leading companies who create “nm” mobile processors for smartphones are Qualcomm, Samsung, Mediatek, Huawei and Apple. In recent years, we have seen Qualcomm release their Snapdragon 7 nm processors. The “nm” in mobile processor, the count keeps on decreasing from 12 nm to 10 nm to 7 nm. It should be going up, shouldn’t it? Bigger the better? Smaller equals slower? Well, not really. 

More “nm” in mobile processor? Better?

Smartphones are portable devices meaning they need to be pertinent to take anywhere you like. Since the frame of smartphones are small, we have limited space to fit its hardware parts. We cannot use standard computers and laptops processors, as they are sizable which means require a better cooling system which just tells us “not enough space!”. 

Therefore, many companies have developed very small distanced transistors to fit in small processors in the nano-meter area to make it compatible with smartphones. “nm” in mobile processor also known as “nano-meters” is the shortest distance between transistors inside of the processor. 

Why does the distance between transistors matter?

Lets say, there is a box that can fit 100 erasers that are sized 10cm where each eraser are 1cm apart. If we decrease the length between erasers, we can fit more erasers right? We use a similar logic behind nm in mobile processors. Likewise, if we reduce the distance between transistors in a processor then we can fit more transistors. 

More transistors closely stacked together means the path to travel for electrons while processing is reduced. This means faster processing power, less heat production and low power consumption. So, the less the nm in mobile processor the more efficient and powerful it is.


The 7nm processor are superior to 10nm in the same size processors. Remember, more nm does not mean better, the less the nm the more efficient the processor is. 

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