Smartphones only feel “smart” if they are fast. No one wants to have a smartphone that slows to a crawl when loading email or games and has an abysmal battery life. For some time smartphone owners, and even some experts, have blamed networks for poor performance; however, the network is not the villain. The thing that truly slows the performance of smartphones is when random write performance is used in vital programs instead of using sequential writes. This may not seem like a major deal; after all, what do a few more seconds waiting for a program to start up really matter? But for those with a disability, the recent rise of smartphone apps aiding disabled persons means that their phone’s performance could be as big a deal as having accessible vans available to them; both items give them help in attaining a fuller life more in line with the average American experience.
Researchers have discovered that wireless networks have generally kept up with the development of most of the applications that are used on phones today. The CPUs that are used in smartphones have also kept up with technology. Unfortunately, NAND memory, which is used in smartphones around the world, experiences profoundly poor performance when applications access its contents randomly rather than sequentially. Because most applications being developed currently are designed to make use of random reads and writes, performance suffers. When the network isn’t to blame, the longer wait for items to download becomes even more frustrating for phone users as the problem could have been avoided at the outset.
Research has shown random writes reduce performance more than 20 times. One solution to the problem appears to be the use of phase-change random access memory (PRAM), a type of memory capable of higher performance, to store data that is critical to the performance of the phone, buffering content and staging sequential writes. Among the benefits of using PRAM, programmers are learning how they can deploy solutions to existing problems in the future. When Samsung included the use of PRAM in some of their new generation of phones, they found that the speed of some of their service increased dramatically compared to existing NOR flash memory.
The future of smartphones will be adding PRAM to allow phones to operate more efficiently, even in the face of random read/write-heavy applications. Whether the application helps a blind person navigate in the city, assisting those with cognitive disabilities in their daily tasks or allowing a teen to watch a funny video, memory response is a major factor in their satisfaction with the service.
Unless the programs written for smartphones are written to take advantage of NAND memory’s sequential write performance, PRAM will be the most viable option to keep smartphones functioning at faster speeds.