Future applications demand more performance, but technology advances have been faltering. A promising approach to further improve computer system performance under energy constraints is to employ hardware accelerators. Already today, mobile systems concurrently employ multiple accelerators in what we call accelerator-level parallelism (ALP). To spread the benefits of ALP more broadly, we charge computer scientists to develop the science needed to best achieve the performance and cost goals of ALP hardware and software.
Over a billion mobile consumer system-on-chip (SoC) chipsets ship each year. Of these, the mobile consumer market undoubtedly involving smartphones has a significant market share. Most modern smartphones comprise of advanced SoC architectures that are made up of multiple cores, GPS, and many different programmable and fixed-function accelerators connected via a complex hierarchy of interconnects with the goal of running a dozen or more critical software usecases under strict power, thermal and energy constraints. The steadily growing complexity of a modern SoC challenges hardware computer architects on how best to do early stage ideation. Late SoC design typically relies on detailed full-system simulation once the hardware is specified and accelerator software is written or ported. However, early-stage SoC design must often select accelerators before a single line of software is written. To help frame SoC thinking and guide early stage mobile SoC design, in this paper we contribute the Gables model that refines and retargets the Roofline model—designed originally for the performance and bandwidth limits of a multicore chip—to model each accelerator on a SoC, to apportion work concurrently among different accelerators (justified by our usecase analysis), and calculate a SoC performance upper bound. We evaluate the Gables model with an existing SoC and develop several extensions that allow Gables to inform early stage mobile SoC design.
Index Terms—Accelerator architectures, Mobile computing, Processor architecture, System-on-Chip
Mobile computing has grown drastically over the past decade. Despite the rapid pace of advancements, mobile device understanding, benchmarking, and evaluation are still in their infancies, both in industry and academia. This article presents an industry perspective on the challenges facing mobile computer architecture, specifically involving mobile workloads, benchmarking, and experimental methodology, with the hope of fostering new research within the community to address pending problems. These challenges pose a threat to the systematic development of future mobile systems, which, if addressed, can elevate the entire mobile ecosystem to the next level.
Mobile devices have come a long way from the first portable cellular phone developed by Motorola in 1973. Most modern smartphones are good enough to replace desktop computers. A smartphone today has enough computing power to be on par with the fastest supercomputers from the 1990s.
For instance, the Qualcomm Adreno 540 GPU found in the latest smartphones has a peak compute capability of more than 500 Gflops, putting it in competition with supercomputers that were on the TOP500 list in the early to mid-1990s. Mobile computing has experienced an unparalleled level of growth over the past decade. At the time of this writing, there are more than 2 billion mobile devices in the world.1 But perhaps even more importantly, mobile phones are showing no signs of slowing in uptake. In fact, smartphone adoption rates are on the rise. The number of devices is rising as mobile device penetration increases in markets like India and China. It is anticipated that the number of mobile subscribers will grow past 6 billion in the coming years.2 As Figure 1 shows, while the Western European and North American markets are reaching saturation, the vast majority of growth is coming from countries in Asia. Given that only 35 percent of the world’s population has thus far adopted mobile technology, there is still significant room for growth and innovation.
Mobile applications are increasingly being built using web technologies as a common substrate to achieve portability and to improve developer productivity. Unfortunately, web applications often incur large performance overhead, directly affecting the user quality-of-service (QoS) experience. Traditional techniques in improving mobile processor performance have mostly been adopting desktop-like design techniques such as increasing single-core microarchitecture complexity and aggressively integrating more cores. However, such a desktop-oriented strategy is likely coming to an end due to the stringent energy and thermal constraints that mobile devices impose. Therefore, we must pivot away from traditional mobile processor design techniques in order to provide sustainable performance improvement while maintaining energy efficiency. In this article, we propose to combine hardware customization and specialization techniques to improve the performance and energy efficiency of mobile web applications. We first perform design-space exploration (DSE) and identify opportunities in customizing existing general-purpose mobile processors, that is, tuning microarchitecture parameters. The thorough DSE also lets us discover sources of energy inefficiency in customized general-purpose architectures. To mitigate these inefficiencies, we propose, synthesize, and evaluate two new domain-specific specializations, called the Style Resolution Unit and the Browser Engine Cache. Our optimizations boost performance and energy efficiency at the same time while maintaining generalpurpose programmability. As emerging mobile workloads increasingly rely more on web technologies, the type of optimizations we propose will become important in the future and are likely to have a long-lasting and widespread impact.
OUR THIRD INSTALLMENT of Research for Practice brings readings spanning programming languages, compilers, privacy, and the mobile Web. First, Jean Yang provides an overview of how to use information flow techniques to build programs that are secure by construction. As Yang writes, information flow is a conceptually simple “clean idea”: the flow of sensitive information across program variables and control statements can be tracked to determine whether information may in fact leak. Making information flow practical is a major challenge, however. Instead of relying on programmers to track information flow, how can compilers and language runtimes be made to do the heavy lifting? How can application writers easily express their privacy policies and understand the implications of a given policy for the set of values that an application user may see? Yang’s set of papers directly addresses these questions via a clever mix of techniques from compilers, systems, and language design. This focus on theory made practical is an excellent topic for RfP
Energy consumption is a key concern for mobile devices. Prior research has focused on the screen and the network as the major sources of energy consumption. Through carefully designed measurement-based experiments, we show that for certain storage-intensive workloads, the storage subsystem on an Android smartphone consumes a significant amount of energy (36%), on par with screen energy consumption. We analyze the energy consumption of different storage primitives, such as sequential and random writes, on two popular mobile file systems, ext4 and F2FS. In addition, since most Android applications use SQLite for storage, we analyze the energy consumption of different SQLite operations. We present several interesting results from our analysis: for example, random writes consume 15× higher energy than sequential writes, and that F2FS consumes half the energy as ext4 for most workloads. We believe our results contribute useful design guidelines for the developers of energy-efficient mobile file systems.
Hardware-based malware detectors (HMDs) are a key emerging technology to build trustworthy computing platforms, especially mobile platforms. Quantifying the efficacy of HMDs against malicious adversaries is thus an important problem. The challenge lies in that real-world malware typically adapts to defenses, evades being run in experimental settings, and hides behind benign applications. Thus, realizing the potential of HMDs as a line of defense – that has a small and battery-efficient code base – requires a rigorous foundation for evaluating HMDs. To this end, we introduce EMMA—a platform to evaluate the efficacy of HMDs for mobile platforms. EMMA deconstructs malware into atomic, orthogonal actions and introduces a systematic way of pitting different HMDs against a diverse subset of malware hidden inside benign applications. EMMA drives both malware and benign programs with real user-inputs to yield an HMD’s effective operating range— i.e., the malware actions a particular HMD is capable of detecting. We show that small atomic actions, such as stealing a Contact or SMS, have surprisingly large hardware footprints, and use this insight to design HMD algorithms that are less intrusive than prior work and yet perform 24.7% better. Finally, EMMA brings up a surprising new result— obfuscation techniques used by malware to evade static analyses makes them more detectable using HMDs.
Web computing is gradually shifting toward mobile devices, in which the energy budget is severely constrained. As a result, Web developers must be conscious of energy efficiency. However, current Web languages provide developers little control over energy consumption. In this paper, we take a first step toward language-level research to enable energy-efficient Web computing. Our key motivation is that mobile systems can wisely budget energy usage if informed with user quality-of-service (QoS) constraints. To do this, programmers need new abstractions. We propose two language abstractions, QoS type and QoS target, to capture two fundamental aspects of user QoS experience. We then present GreenWeb, a set of language extensions that empower developers to easily express the QoS abstractions as program annotations. As a proof of concept, we develop a GreenWeb runtime, which intelligently determines how to deliver specified user QoS expectation while minimizing energy consumption. Overall, GreenWeb shows significant energy savings (29.2% ⇠ 66.0%) over Android’s default Interactive governor with few QoS violations. Our work demonstrates a promising first step toward language innovations for energy-efficient Web computing. Categories and Subject Descriptors D.3.2 [Programming Language]: Language Classifications–Specialized application languages; D.3.3 [Programming Language]: Language Constructs and Features–Constraints Keywords Energy-efficiency, Web, Mobile computing
Hardware-based malware detectors (HMDs) are a key emerging technology to build trustworthy systems, especially mobile platforms. Quantifying the efficacy of HMDs against malicious adversaries is thus an important problem. The challenge lies in that real-world malware adapts to defenses, evades being run in experimental settings, and hides behind benign applications. Thus, realizing the potential of HMDs as a small and battery-efficient line of defense requires a rigorous foundation for evaluating HMDs. We introduce Sherlock—a white-box methodology that quantifies an HMD’s ability to detect malware and identify the reason why. Sherlock first deconstructs malware into atomic, orthogonal actions to synthesize a diverse malware suite. Sherlock then drives both malware and benign programs with real user-inputs, and compares their executions to determine an HMD’s operating range, i.e., the smallest malware actions an HMD can detect. We show three case studies using Sherlock to not only quantify HMDs’ operating ranges but design better detectors. First, using information about concrete malware actions, we build a discretewavelet transform based unsupervised HMD that outperforms prior work based on power transforms by 24.7% (AUC metric). Second, training a supervised HMD using Sherlock’s diverse malware dataset yields 12.5% better HMDs than past approaches that train on ad-hoc subsets of malware. Finally, Sherlock shows why a malware instance is detectable. This yields a surprising new result—obfuscation techniques used by malware to evade static analyses makes them more detectable using HMDs.
Mobile Web applications have become an integral part of our society. They pose a high demand for application quality of service (QoS). However, the energy-constrained nature of mobile devices makes optimizing for QoS difficult. Prior art on energy efficiency optimizations has only focused on the trade-off between raw performance and energy consumption, ignoring the application QoS characteristics. In this paper, we propose the concept of energy-efficient QoS (eQoS) to capture the trade-off between QoS and energy consumption. Given the fundamental event-driven nature of mobile Web applications, we further propose event-based scheduling as an optimization framework for eQoS. The event-based scheduling automatically reasons about users’ QoS requirements, and accurately slacks the events’ execution time to save energy without violating end users’ experience. We demonstrate a working prototype using the Google Chromium and V8 framework on the Samsung Exynos 5410 SoC (used in the Galaxy S4 smartphone). Based on real hardware and software measurements, we achieve 41.2% energy saving with only 0.4% of QoS violations perceptible to end users.
In contrast to traditional computing systems, such as desktops and servers, that are programmed to perform “compute-bound” and “run-to-completion” tasks, mobile applications are designed for user interactivity. Factoring user interactivity into computer system design and evaluation is important, yet possesses many challenges. In particular, systematically studying interactive mobile applications across the diverse set of mobile devices available today is difficult due to the mobile device fragmentation problem. At the time of writing, there are 18,796 distinct Android mobile devices on the market and will only continue to increase in the future. Differences in screen sizes, resolutions and operating systems impose different interactivity requirements, making it difficult to uniformly study these systems. We present Mosaic, a cross-platform, timing-accurate record and replay tool for Android-based mobile devices. Mosaic overcomes device fragmentation through a novel virtual screen abstraction. User interactions are translated from a physical device into a platform-agnostic intermediate representation before translation to a target system. The intermediate representation is human-readable, which allows Mosaic users to modify previously recorded traces or even synthesize their own user interactive sessions from scratch. We demonstrate that Mosaic allows user interaction traces to be recorded on emulators, smartphones, tablets, and development boards and replayed on other devices. Using Mosaic we were able to replay 45 different Google Play applications across multiple devices, and also show that we can perform cross-platform performance comparisons between two different processors under identical user interactions.
THE MOBILE CPU IS STARTING TO NOTICEABLY IMPACT WEB BROWSING PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY CONSUMPTION. ACHIEVING ENERGY-EFFICIENT MOBILE WEB BROWSING REQUIRES CONSIDERING BOTH CPU AND NETWORK CAPABILITIES. RESEARCHERS MUST LEVERAGE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN THE CPU AND NETWORK TO DELIVER HIGH MOBILE WEB PERFORMANCE WHILE MAINTAINING A LOW ENERGY FOOTPRINT. DESIGNING FUTURE HIGH-PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY-EFFICIENT MOBILE WEB CLIENTS IMPLIES LOOKING BEYOND INDIVIDUAL COMPONENTS AND TAKING A FULL SYSTEM PERSPECTIVE.
Web browsing on mobile devices is undoubtedly the future. However, with the increasing complexity of webpages, the mobile device’s computation capability and energy consumption become major pitfalls for a satisfactory user experience. In this paper, we propose a mechanism to effectively leverage processor frequency scaling in order to balance the performance and energy consumption of mobile web browsing. This mechanism explores the performance and energy tradeoff in webpage loading, and schedules webpage loading according to the webpages’ characteristics, using the different frequencies. The proposed solution achieves 20.3% energy saving compared to the performance mode, and improves webpage loading performance by 37.1% compared to the battery saving mode.
Index Terms—Energy, EDP, Cutoff, Performance, Webpages
Computational characteristics of a program can potentially be used to identify malicious programs from benign ones. However, systematically evaluating malware detection techniques, especially when malware samples are hard to run correctly and can adapt their computational characteristics, is a hard problem. We introduce Morpheus – a benchmarking tool that includes both real mobile malware and a synthetic malware generator that can be configured to generate a computationally diverse malware sample-set – as a tool to evaluate computational signatures based malware detection. Morpheus also includes a set of computationally diverse benign applications that can be used to repackage malware into, along with a recorded trace of over 1 hour long realistic human usage for each app that can be used to replay both benign and malicious executions.
The current Morpheus prototype targets Android applications and malware samples. Using Morpheus, we quantify the computational diversity in malware behavior and expose opportunities for dynamic analyses that can detect mobile malware. Specifically, the use of obfuscation and encryption to thwart static analyses causes the malicious execution to be more distinctive – a potential opportunity for detection. We also present potential challenges, specifically, minimizing false positives that can arise due to diversity of benign executions.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
D.4.6 [Security and Protection]: Invasive software
The Web browser is undoubtedly the single most important application in the mobile ecosystem. An average user spends 72 minutes each day using the mobile Web browser. Web browser internal engines (e.g., WebKit) are also growing in importance because they provide a common substrate for developing various mobile Web applications. In a user-driven, interactive, and latency-sensitive environment, the browser’s performance is crucial. However, the battery-constrained nature of mobile devices limits the performance that we can deliver for mobile Web browsing. As traditional general-purpose techniques to improve performance and energy efficiency fall short, we must employ domain-specific knowledge while still maintaining general-purpose flexibility.
In this paper, we first perform design-space exploration to identify appropriate general-purpose architectures that uniquely fit the characteristics of a popular Web browsing engine. Despite our best effort, we discover sources of energy inefficiency in these customized general-purpose architectures. To mitigate these inefficiencies, we propose, synthesize, and evaluate two new domain-specific specializations, called the Style Resolution Unit and the Browser Engine Cache. Our optimizations boost energy efficiency and at the same time improve mobile Web browsing performance. As emerging mobile workloads increasingly rely more on Web browser technologies, the type of optimizations we propose will become important in the future and are likely to have lasting widespread impact.