Data Storage Cripples Mobile Apps

A new research from electronics manufacturer NEC suggest that storage systems on the mobiles is the main problem for the mobile apps, the research was led by Nitin Agrawal. The research was announced on Usenix File and Storage Technology conference in San Jose, California.

Agrawal and his colleagues Hyojun Kim and Cristian Ungureanu came to that conclusion after testing how the performance of a series of popular apps for Google’s Android mobile operating system was affected by the memory card inside a device. The apps included Facebook, Google Maps, Angry Birds, and Android’s Web browser.

Apps were put through their paces again and again while eight different memory cards from several manufacturers were swapped in and out to see whether they made apps more or less responsive. Android devices normally rely on internal memory chips when running apps, but to ease experimentation, the researchers tweaked the operating system to rely almost exclusively on a device’s removable memory card, which is typically used to store photos and music. But Agrawal says the findings should also apply to internal storage, which has similar properties. Some of the results were striking. From a cold start, the Gmail app launched more than three times faster running on the best performing memory card than on the worst; the Twitter app launched more than twice as fast with faster storage. The Android Web browser was tested by asking it to navigate to and load 50 top Web pages one after another; it was around three times faster in the best case than in the worst. The tests were carried out on a Nexus One phone running the “Gingerbread” version of Android, which was only recently superseded by the latest Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich. When tests were done using a cable to simulate a connection 10 times faster than Wi-Fi, apps hardly became more responsive.

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