A study of mobile device utilization

Cao Gao, Anthony Gutierrez, Madhav Rajan, Ronald G. Dreslinski, Trevor Mudge, Carole-Jean Wu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

41 Scopus citations


Mobile devices are becoming more powerful and versatile than ever, calling for better embedded processors. Following the trend in desktop CPUs, microprocessor vendors are trying to meet such needs by increasing the number of cores in mobile device SoCs. However, increasing the number does not translate proportionally into performance gain and power reduction. In the past, studies have shown that there exists little parallelism to be exploited by a multi-core processor in desktop platform applications, and many cores sit idle during runtime. In this paper, we investigate whether the same is true for current mobile applications. We analyze the behavior of a broad range of commonly used mobile applications on real devices. We measure their Thread Level Parallelism (TLP), which is the machine utilization over the non-idle runtime. Our results demonstrate that mobile applications are utilizing less than 2 cores on average, even with background applications running concurrently. We observe a diminishing return on TLP with increasing the number of cores, and low TLP even with heavy-load scenarios. These studies suggest that having many powerful cores is over-provisioning. Further analysis of TLP behavior and big-little core energy efficiency suggests that current mobile workloads can benefit from an architecture that has the flexibility to accommodate both high performance and good energy-efficiency for different application phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationISPASS 2015 - IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781479919567
StatePublished - Apr 27 2015
Event2015 15th IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software, ISPASS 2015 - Philidelphia, United States
Duration: Mar 29 2015Mar 31 2015


Other2015 15th IEEE International Symposium on Performance Analysis of Systems and Software, ISPASS 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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