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.