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Glossary

Application specific processor

What is an application specific processor?

An application specific processor is a processor designed to efficiently handle one or a limited set of applications.

In contrast, general purpose processors are designed to be able to be used for a wide range of applications and often are aimed to be used with an operating system. General purpose processor cores handle specific applications less efficently than an a processor specialized for those applications.

Application specific processors are designed after analyzing the software workload required for their target application. Their instruction set and microarchitecture is optimized for that workload meaning that the processor delivers good performance at a competitive silicon area and power consumption.

The meaning of application specific processors overlaps with that of domain specific processors.

When do we need application specific processors?

Application specific processors are needed if specialization is required to meet the needs of a particular workload. For example, algorithms for cryptography, DSP or neural networks perform poorly on general purpose cores. However if the instruction set and microarchitecture is optimized for the algorithms, the resulting processor can be very efficient.

Read our blog post on application-specific processors.

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