TitleMobile CPU’s Rise to Power: Quantifying the Impact of Generational Mobile CPU Design Trends on Performance, Energy, and User Satisfaction
inProc. of High Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA)
Author(s)Matthew Halpern, Yuhao Zhu, Vijay Janapa Reddi
DateMarch, 2016
LocationBarcelona, Spain
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In this paper, we assess the past, present, and future of mobile CPU design. We study how mobile CPU designs trends have impacted the end-user, hardware design, and the holistic mobile device. We analyze the evolution of ten cutting-edge mobile CPU designs released over the past seven years. Specifically, we report measured performance, power, energy and user satisfaction trends across mobile CPU generations.

A key contribution of our work is that we contextualize the mobile CPU’s evolution in terms of user satisfaction, which has largely been absent from prior mobile hardware studies. To bridge the gap between mobile CPU design and user satisfaction, we construct and conduct a novel crowdsourcing study that spans over 25,000 survey participants using the Amazon Mechanical Turk service. Our methodology allows us to identify what mobile CPU design techniques provide the most benefit to the end-user’s quality of user experience.

Our results quantitatively demonstrate that CPUs play a crucial role in modern mobile system-on-chips (SoCs). Over the last seven years, both single- and multicore performance improvements have contributed to end-user satisfaction by reducing user-critical application response latencies. Mobile CPUs aggressively adopted many power-hungry desktop-oriented design techniques to reach these performance levels. Unlike other smartphone components (e.g. display and radio) whose peak power consumption has decreased over time, the mobile CPU’s peak power consumption has steadily increased.

As the limits of technology scaling restrict the ability of desktop-like scaling to continue for mobile CPUs, specialized accelerators appear to be a promising alternative that can help sustain the power, performance, and energy improvements that mobile computing necessitates. Such a paradigm shift will redefine the role of the CPU within future SoCs, which merit several design considerations based on our findings.