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Energy efficiency of mobile clients in cloud computing

Antti P. Miettinen Jukka K. Nurminen
Nokia Research Center Nokia Research Center

Abstract does allow running some existing applications with less
energy. Thinking about the future, cloud computing can
Energy efficiency is a fundamental consideration for mo- be an essential enabler for the development of new com-
bile devices. Cloud computing has the potential to save putationally intensive applications for mobile devices.
mobile client energy but the savings from offloading the In our analysis, we discuss the computing to commu-
computation need to exceed the energy cost of the addi- nication ratio, which is the critical factor for the decision
tional communication. between local processing and computation offloading.
In this paper we provide an analysis of the critical fac- The trade-off point is strongly dependent on the energy
tors affecting the energy consumption of mobile clients efficiency of wireless communication and of local pro-
in cloud computing. Further, we present our measure- cessing. Additionally, not only the amount of transferred
ments about the central characteristics of contemporary data but also the traffic pattern is important; sending a
mobile handheld devices that define the basic balance be- sequence of small packets consumes more energy than
tween local and remote computing. We also describe a sending the same data in a single burst. Managing the
concrete example, which demonstrates energy savings. complexity of all issues involved makes the role of de-
We show that the trade-offs are highly sensitive to the velopers and content producers important. We provide
exact characteristics of the workload, data communica- preliminary results on mechanisms for estimating the en-
tion patterns and technologies used, and discuss the im- ergy cost of modern web oriented workloads.
plications for the design and engineering of energy effi- The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In Sec-
cient mobile cloud computing solutions. tion 2 we describe the background of mobile cloud com-
puting and review the related research. Section 3 pro-
1 Introduction vides an overview of the basic setup of mobile cloud
computing, highlighting the characteristics of contempo-
This paper discusses the energy efficiency of mobile rary mobile devices. In Section 4 we describe an exam-
clients in cloud computing. We see cloud computing as ple case for mobile cloud computing and in Section 5 we
a promising technology which can offer many benefits discuss the role of cloud computing for mobile devices
for mobile devices. In this paper we focus on computa- in general and the implications for, e.g., software devel-
tion offloading, which can be used to save energy for the opers and content producers. We end our paper with our
battery powered devices. conclusions in Section 6.
We describe the present state of mobile device charac-
teristics that are critical for cloud computing and high- 2 Background
light cases where cloud computing can be used to save
energy. It turns out that the computational characteris- Cloud computing has received large interest recently.
tics of many current mobile applications favor local pro- The primary motivations for the mainstream cloud com-
cessing. This can be a result of a natural selection pro- puting are related to the elasticity of computing re-
cess, which has favored light-weight applications that are sources. Cloud computing offers virtually infinite re-
able to run with the limited resources of a mobile de- sources that are available on demand and charged ac-
vice. Therefore computationally demanding mobile ap- cording to usage. This offers considerable economic ad-
plications are rare even though the need for such appli- vantages both for cloud providers and cloud users as de-
cations may well exist. Nevertheless, cloud computing scribed in [1].

is a service pected. signed for high peak performance requires much more 2 . D Ecloud = (2) ies focus on the effect offloading has on the energy con.. CPU cycles then ity in mobile phone designs [11]. Furthermore. bile cloud computing. cost If D is the amount of data to be transferred in bytes and and R&D efficiency. vestigate both wireless local area network (WLAN) and synchronization of contact and calendar data. The Def f parameter is conditions 20% energy savings would be possible. We need to consider the energy cost of per- amount of energy that can be stored in a battery is limited forming the computation locally (Elocal ) versus the cost and is growing only 5% annually [8]. Indeed. [3]. Instead of program partitioning bile cloud computing. energy usage and ap. Virtual machine technology for mobile cloud comput- ing with well-connected PC devices. computing differ from the motivation of cloud comput. The computing energy efficiency (Cef f ) is affected counting and uses execution time. and rich user interaction. In most cases the focus is C Elocal = (3) on response time and other resource consumption. high speed wireless communication. The nication. For mainstream cloud comput. high definition In the context of cloud computing. The described framework performs resource ac. However. large part of the hardware C is the computational requirement for the workload in technology benefits have been traded for programmabil. For example. and conclude that.g. Computation offloading has been the topic of a num- ber of studies.. Energy efficiency improvements can also al- ways be traded for other benefits like device size.g. with given energy (in bytes per joule) whereas the Cef f where a program is partitioned to client and server parts. e. in our work we in- it requires transferring large amounts of data. Large Cef f part of the research uses modelling and simulation. joule). the critical aspect for multimedia. only a subset of those stud. e. The paper proposes a distributed between mobile and mainstream cloud computing is the cloud architecture utilizing single hop radio technology data transfer bottleneck. Device backup would be a use. With these we can derive the relationship between tion speed and energy consumption. > (4) D Def f Middleware based approach has been studied in. The main metrics evaluated are execu. parameter is a measure for the amount of computation The client parts are run on a mobile device and the server that can be performed with given energy (in cycles per part is offloaded. nificantly based on the used communication technology. the thresholds for moving to the cloud vary sig- that is widely available. This is probably one widely used wireless technologies and their effect on mo- of the reasons why there are few examples of true mo. Energy efficiency has always been critical for mobile devices and the importance seems to be increasing. A shared problem ing is studied in [9]. For mobile devices the motivations of using cloud remote and hybrid execution. Development of mobile clients is the trade-off between energy consumed battery technology has not been able to match the power by computation and the energy consumed by commu- requirements of the increasing resource demand. transferring massive amounts of data to the cloud while Our work complements existing research by provid- for mobile cloud computing the key issue is the energy ing a snapshot of the present state of mobile devices and consumption of the communication. like [7]. which is an early investigation of offloading work where Def f and Cef f are device specific data trans- from mobile to a fixed host concluding that under certain fer and computing efficiencies. where the cellular communication (3G). However. [12]. by the device implementation. the proposed ar- ing the most important concern is the time and the cost of chitecture requires significant changes to infrastructure. Use cases are developing towards always on-line connectiv- 3 Energy trade-off analysis ity. the outcome is shown to be sensitive to pro- C Cef f gram inputs. a measure for the amount of data that can be transferred Compiler technology has been studied in. we have focused on evaluating the basic feasibility of ful service for a small device that can easily get lost but moving tasks to cloud. a CPU de- plication fidelity as criteria for deciding between local. for reducing latency and jitter. as ex- amount of transferred data is more modest. Def f sumption of the mobile device. However. For offloading to be beneficial we require that Also thermal considerations limit the power budged of the small devices without active cooling to about three Ecloud < Elocal (1) watts [5]. (Ecloud ). Bigger batteries of transferring the computation input and output data resulting into larger devices are not an attractive option. Even though the computing and communication for offloading to be ben- measurements show that significant energy savings are eficial possible.

025 N900/500 MHz 0. dependency of energy per transferred data on communi- cation bit-rate. Table 1 lists the computational energy characteristics of two mobile devices. As can be seen. The power and bit-rate characteristics of wireless modems vary also significantly. The cycle values were calculated from program execution time and CPU clock speed.7 730 MC/J 0.4 370 KB/J fected by the traffic pattern as illustrated in Figure 2. N900/3G/receive (far) 1. Device implementation has much bigger im- pact. In this paper we have used the Nokia Energy Profiler [2].0 190 KB/J only 0. N810/266 MHz 1.4 350 KB/J Table 2 lists the energy characteristics of wireless N900/3G/transmit (far) 3. the more energy efficient the data transfer is.5 390 KB/J The energy efficiency of communication is also af- N810/330 MHz 1. The latencies associ- ated with the activation and deactivation of the wireless (a) Smooth traffic source.6W with a bursty traffic source.05 N810/330 MHz 0. of the CPU at run-time. 0. measured with the gzip deflate compression program compressing ASCII data. The WLAN Table 2: Energy characteristics of wireless transfer for Nokia throughput of the N810 is affected significantly by the N810 and N900. the Nokia N810 and Nokia N900. which measures the power consumption of the complete device.005 0 25 50 75 100 125 150 175 200 225 250 275 300 power per megahertz than a core designed for lower per.7 480 MC/J 0.3 510 MC/J WLAN 0.02 N900/250 MHz 0. The figure also illustrates the fact that the energy efficiency of cellu- lar communication tends to be more sensitive to the data Device Power/W Bytes/energy (Def f ) transfer bit-rate than WLAN. the higher the bit-rate. Device/frequency Power/W Cycles/energy (Cef f ) N810/400 MHz 0.035 N900/600 MHz 0.9 650 MC/J 3G 0.01 N810 and N900 (MC=megacycle).03 mJ/bit N900/550 MHz 0. The same average bit-rate that re- N900/3G/receive (near) 1.1 860 KB/J sured on Nokia N95.3 350 KB/J which shows data transfer power levels for WLAN com- N810/165 MHz 1. interface vary by technology and are longer in cellular communication than in WLAN. Techniques like dynamic voltage and fre- quency scaling (DVFS) alter the power and performance Figure 1: Energy per bit for N95 WLAN and 3G.8 690 MC/J 0.015 Table 1: Energy characteristics of local computing for Nokia 0.1 310 KB/J munication with smooth and bursty traffic sources mea- N900/WLAN 1.2 60 KB/J communication for the Nokia N810 and N900.4 700 MC/J 0. Figure 1 illustrates the Figure 2: Traffic pattern effect for N95 WLAN.1 450 KB/J quires 1W power with a smooth traffic source consumes N900/3G/transmit (near) 1. CPU operating point so the metrics are shown for all op- erating points separately. N810/400 MHz 1.04 N810/165 MHz 0. From the table we can see that DVFS does affect the energy efficiency of computing (Cef f ) but not radically. (b) Bursty traffic source.5 540 MC/J 0.8 480 MC/J 0. The most significant fac- tor for the energy consumption of a wireless modem is the activity time of the interface.045 N810/266 MHz 0. measured with the netperf TCP streaming benchmark. kB/s formance. Even though the power level of 3 .

5 40 pdf2text N900 data sheet 960 N900/3G (far) 2 55 pdf2text E72 data sheet 8900 Table 4: Power and energy of PDF viewing. which em. The wikipedia entry base station. The X11 network trans- Table 3 lists some CPU cycle to data ratios measured parency feature allows running the application and its on the Beagleboard single board computer. The N900 networking throughput is Power (W) not similarly affected by the CPU operating point. the power consumption of the wireless modem is significantly affected by the network quality. gzip. The effect of pro. time. most current mobile applications gies for viewing a demanding PDF document (Nokia E72 resemble more gzip than x264. WLAN because of communication latencies. WLAN. In our experience. This mechanism is avail- ploys an ARM Cortex-A8 CPU core running at 720 able in the maemo platform (http://maemo.5 the device is highest at the highest operating point.5 For N900 the table shows the effect of different bear- 1 ers and different location (near and far from base station) for the energy efficiency of the data transfer. display in separate devices. coder represents more computationally intensive work. power degrading the energy efficiency of the communi- cation significantly. page containing just language selection options whereas As can be seen. 3 N900/WLAN N900/local N810/local 2. the asymmetric design of the 3G HSDPA communication is clearly illustrated.4 40 html2text wikipedia.5 to consider while reading the table is the fact that the 3G measurements were performed in a reasonably crowded 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 R&D network where the device was not able to achieve Time (s) optimal 2100 N900/WLAN 1. 4 . Moreover.2 20 html2text en.wikipedia. Workload Cycles/byte Device/bearer Average power/W Total energy/J gzip ASCII compress 330 N810/local 1.2 50 x264 VBR encode 1300 N810/WLAN 1. tables WLAN case is the smallest because of shorter execution that require much more processing.4 20 x264 CBR encode 1900 N900/local 1.. higher throughput causes it to be the most energy efficient state 2 for WLAN transfer. Especially ented workloads where the content largely dictates the transmission far from the base station requires very high processing requirement. One factor 0. is a intro/platform/) used by the Nokia N810 and data intensive workload whereas the x264 video en. For N900 mobile device has not been an attractive proposition. whose behavior is strongly affected by station and remote viewer over 3G packet data far from the data that they are processing. The deflate compression algorithm. erage power. For N810 there are two cases: local viewer as running computationally intensive applications on a and remote X11 client connected over 5900 N900/3G (near) 1. Also. Figure 3 shows as examples the measured page (http://wikipedia.g. the remote cases run with higher av- the English main page (http://en. there are four cases: local viewer. Figure 3: Example power curves for PDF viewing. Table 4 shows the average power levels and total ener- load. N900 devices. However. the total energy for the remote org/) is a more complex page containing. 1. The cost of transmitting is much higher than receiving. remote viewer over 3G packet data near base sent applications. 4 Example: mobile as a thin client Combining the best case values of Tables 1 and 2 with Equation 4 we get the following rough rule of thumb: For testing the reasoning presented in Section 3. The 3G network cases consume more energy than cessed data is especially significant for modern web ori. remote viewer over The html2text and pdf2text programs is a simple web power for local viewer cases and the N900 WLAN case. we have for computation offloading to be beneficial the workload made experiments with PDF viewing and web browsing needs to perform more than 1000 cycles of computation where the mobile terminal acts as a thin client utilizing for each byte of data. This is not surprising data sheet). the X11 window system [10]. e. Table 3: Computation to data ratios for various MHz. However.

later when a bearer with better energy efficiency is avail- glish main page of wikipedia on N900. ing. Rendering requires significant 500 computation and running it remotely can therefore save energy. Another example could be a content sharing service. Energy is a fundamental factor for battery powered devices and an important criterion when consid- ering moving computing to the cloud. bulk data transfers. The Nokia N900 is a more computing to data ratio defining the break-even for mov- recent model than N810 and has significantly more pow. rangement. ing the English main page of wikipedia (http://en. In this kind of 5 .cnn. web content). the communication pattern is also an which by nature requires transferring locally produced important consideration. the usage pattern and applica. As shown in Figure 3. The CNN Interna. This highlights the fact that the amount of trans. The basic balance 3G communication is sensitive to location as evidenced between local and remote computing is defined by the by the energy differences of the cases where the mobile trade-off between communication energy and computing device is near and far from the base station. As dis. Also. already in the cloud (e. The measurements in this paper provide a rough cessing time makes the N900 more energy efficient for guideline for current mobile devices but technology de- this workload. for many use cases the data is For X11 applications. data to the cloud. Even though the N900 lo. loads utilizing thin client technologies represent proba- quires significant computation. However. the compu- In the web browsing case. efficiency for communication would be achieved with ing the page. ple.g. and is therefore a good bly the most challenging target because of the fine gran- candidate for offloading. browser over WLAN connection. the shorter pro. for example scrolling requires mini- Throughput (KB/s) 400 mal processing and can cause large amounts of data to be 300 transferred which causes remote operation to be very en- ergy inefficient in addition to degrading interactive per- 200 formance. the remote case (about 500KB). interactive work- mote browser. introducing long latencies into user visible operations. Also. data but also the communication pattern has a large im- takes roughly the same energy (60J) with local and re. Also if immediate response is not Figure 4 shows example curves of the download traffic required the data transfers can be delayed and executed for local and remote browser cases while viewing the En. The best energy also significant amounts of network traffic while render. the balance but to a less radical extent. pact on the energy consumption. the remote browser case Mobile cloud computing differs also from simple com- achieves higher throughput for a large part of the data putation offloading in the sense that the cloud can offer requires about 30 joules with the some cases be used to improve performance in addition N900 local browser and about 25 joules with a remote to saving energy. energy. age for backing up the mobile terminal data is one exam- izing the energy consumption of communication. Local tion implementation details have also major impact on 600 WLAN the energy consumption. Another observation that can be made from the mea. For the WLAN case both devices perform velopment can shift the trade-off point significantly. Scheduling data transfers to happen in parallel can local browser downloads less data (about 200KB) than also be used to save energy [6]. the remote web browser causes ularity of the required communication. Stor- ferred data alone is not a sufficient metric for character. E.. Nat- similarly regardless of the better WLAN throughput that urally device specific implementation decisions affect N900 is able to achieve. ficiencies of wireless communication and local comput- cal processing takes a bit higher power. Even though web page processing re. cussed in Section 3. services other than computing for mobile clients. As an example. we compared local browser tation offloading needs careful design in order to avoid with remote X11 client browser. ing to cloud is highly dependent on the exact energy ef- erful processing capabilities. computation offloading can in wikipedia. there are many factors to consider when surements is the improved processing performance of the thinking about mobile cloud computing scenarios. 100 5 Discussion 0 0 5 10 15 20 Time (s) The setup for mobile cloud computing is substantially different from the traditional client-server computing ar- Figure 4: Download rate for local and remote browser. Even though the able. not only the amount of tional Edition page (http://edition. The N900 compared to the N810.g. However. For wireless communication.

critical for energy efficiency and requires considerations rion for battery powered devices and needs to be care. Mobile cloud computing is therefore a fruitful area for further research.g. We see also server side technologies critical for mobile 6 Conclusions cloud computing. There are many a significant effect on the energy consumption of mobile factors that make cloud computing an attractive tech. where protocols have tra- havior whereas the behavior at smaller granularity is very ditionally not been optimized specifically for energy ef- noisy. topic is thin client technology. to consider when making design decisions about cloud We see tools and technologies for managing the com- applications targeting mobile devices. it is also as an opportunity. cation where achieving high energy efficiency requires high throughput. Currently web technologies the normal development flow.. devices and traffic patterns would also be highly valu- bile clients. 6 . Identifying these new applications is one interesting topic for future research. different tent has a large impact on the energy consumption of mo. In this paper we have analyzed the energy consumption e. There is a need for energy consumption feedback ergy efficiency. can be limited by device interconnects. Optimizing wireless communication patterns is nology. Implementing modern rich user interfaces for ficient for fine grained web application profiling. The vastly superior computing resources available in the 10 cloud open also interesting possibilities for completely new applications. Even though this simple metric is clearly insuf. 100 fully considered for all mobile cloud computing scenar- ios. during the natural development and debugging cycle [4] Context dependency of the energy efficiency trade-offs but current tools are severely lacking in this area. While the most energy efficient setup for many cur- Energy (J) rent mobile applications is local computing. able. web applications running in desktop Firefox browser and For interactive workloads.. Energy aware middleware solutions coarse grain estimation of the energy consumption of should therefore be researched to evaluate the feasibility JavaScript execution. However. 1000 10000 100000 1e+06 Even though high performance often implies higher JavaScript function calls power requirements our examples show that high per- formance can also contribute towards better energy ef- Figure 5: Energy versus JavaScript function calls (in loga- rithmic scale on both axis to accommodate loads of different ficiency. web cially challenging topic. web applications the server response times can have of mobile clients in cloud computing. wireless communication are a critical factor. While energy can be a challenge for mobile cloud computing. It is also important to realize that the performance metrics of real world scenarios can be sig- scenarios the cost of transferring workload input is es. means that the decision making cannot be restricted to Figure 5 illustrates how very simple metrics allow design time only. large workloads exhibit near linear be. understanding about the effect of data amount. Studies providing more detailed content production tools. nificantly different from theoretical maximums implied sentially zero. ficiency. processing capa- It is clear that there are a number of nontrivial factors bilities and memory subsystem performance. but energy consumption is a fundamental crite. e. This is especially true for wireless communi- magnitude). Developers and content producers would the energy consumption of the required network traffic is benefit especially from tools that integrate seamlessly to therefore an important topic. clients. For. there clearly are workloads that can benefit from moving to the cloud. The graph shows the correlation of automatic decision making between local and remote between JavaScript function call counts extracted from processing. con. The energy consumption of a mobile device is affected by the complete end-to-end chain. Estimating the plexity of the issues involved as important topics for fu- computational requirements of client side processing and ture research. As discussed in section 3. both on the client and the server side. This requires models and are a popular way of constructing distributed applications estimation mechanisms that are sufficiently light-weight and web applications are increasingly targeting mobile but still able to guide design decisions towards better en- clients. For example radio throughput the computation would still be needed. latencies associated with the corresponding energy consumption in Nokia N900. signalling traffic for controlling by device components. large cloud applications with high energy efficiency is an espe- grain estimates would probably be useful for. A related As can be seen.g.

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