Into the wild: Studying real user activity patterns to guide power optimizations for mobile architectures

Alex Shye*, Benjamin Scholbrock, Gokhan Memik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

250 Scopus citations


As the market for mobile architectures continues its rapid growth, it has become increasingly important to understand and optimize the power consumption of these battery-driven devices. While energy consumption has been heavily explored, there is one critical factor that is often overlooked - the end user. Ultimately, the energy consumption of a mobile architecture is defined by user activity. In this paper, we study mobile architectures in their natural environment - in the hands of the end user. Specifically, we develop a logger application for Android G1 mobile phones and release the logger into the wild to collect traces of real user activity. We then show how the traces can be used to characterize power consumption, and guide the development of power optimizations. We present a regression-based power estimation model that only relies on easily-accessible measurements collected by our logger. The model accurately estimates power consumption and provides insights about the power breakdown among hardware components. We show that energy consumption widely varies depending upon the user. In addition, our results show that the screen and the CPU are the two largest power consuming components. We also study patterns in user behavior to derive power optimizations. We observe that majority of the active screen time is dominated by long screen intervals. To reduce the energy consumption during these long intervals, we implement a scheme that slowly reduces the screen brightness over time. Our results reveal that the users are happier with a system that slowly reduces the screen brightness rather than abruptly doing so, even though the two schemes settle at the same brightness. Similarly, we experiment with a scheme that slowly reduces the CPU frequency over time. We evaluate these optimizations with a user study and demonstrate 10.6% total system energy savings with a minimal impact on user satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-178
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Annual International Symposium on Microarchitecture, MICRO
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009
Event42nd Annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, Micro-42 - New York, NY, United States
Duration: Dec 12 2009Dec 16 2009


  • C.0 [computer systems organization]: general - modeling of computer architecture
  • C.3 [special-purpose and application-based systems]: Real-time and embedded systems
  • Design
  • H.1.2 [models and principles]: user/machine systems - human factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture


Dive into the research topics of 'Into the wild: Studying real user activity patterns to guide power optimizations for mobile architectures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this