Bridging the gap between mobile CPU design and user satisfaction via crowdsourcing
Halpern, Matthew Franklin
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This report aims to provide an understanding of how the mobile CPU designs have evolved and its influence on end-user satisfaction. To that end, a quantitative performance analysis is conducted across ten cutting-edge mobile CPU designs studied within top-selling off-the-shelf smartphones released over the past seven years. This analysis is then used to guide a large-scale user study spanning over 25,000 participants via crowdsourcing on the Amazon Mechanical Turk service. The user study asks participants to assess the responsiveness of interactive application use cases for a set of current-generation applications (e.g. Angry Birds and FaceBook) and next-generation applications (i.e. face recognition and augmented reality) relative to the performance capabilities of the devices studied. This framework allows us to quantitatively link how the mobile CPU designs studied impacted end-user satisfaction. The study results indicate that mobile CPU designs have exhibited signifiant performance improvements through aggressive core scaling techniques prevalent in desktop CPUs. Just as was observed in desktop CPU design, these same techniques have lead to excessive mobile CPU power consumption. However, from an end-user perspective this power consumption was not without success. Mobile CPUs have evolved to provide satisfactory experiences for the studied current- generation applications. The reason is that many of these applications rely heavily on single-threaded performance. Other, more recent applications, actually multi-thread user-critical parts of the applications, which also demonstrates that multi- core mobile CPUs are an important design consideration – contrary to conventional wisdom. However, looking ahead, the same mobile CPUs where not able to provide satisfactory experiences for many of the next-generation applications studied, questioning the sustainability of these power-hungry design techniques in future mobile CPU designs.