The mobile application space is exploding. Users increasingly turn to smartphones and tablets to consume and create content, whether on the go or on the couch. As a result, today’s wireless mobile devices offer a wealth of applications. Gaming, Internet browsing and video playback and recording of CD-quality audio are considered commodities. In addition, current mobile phones offer multiple radio transceivers such as FM, GPS, Bluetooth and WLAN.

Games continue to be the most popular category of apps for both feature phone and smartphone users alike. But, while all categories of applications are more popular on smartphones than on feature phones, the difference is more pronounced in categories such as maps/navigation, where more computing power, larger screens and touch interfaces deliver a more satisfying experience.

Designing a mobile platform that can successfully incorporate all of these applications as well as the next generation of applications – which will incorporate features such as HD video, high-fidelity audio, digital SLR-like imaging and augmented reality- is a challenge.

Design Considerations

1. CPU and GPU processing capabilities are at the heart of every intelligent device. The increasing demands that we are placing on mobile devices have brought about the necessity for more powerful processing. Multi-core CPUs as well as multi-core 2D/3D graphics accelerators in the application processor are needed. Future computing architectures will require hybrid systems combining Heterogeneous Multi Processing and multi-core architecture.

2. Cellular and short range wireless (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) capabilities create the “connected device” and building on this we have Intelligent apps that collect data via the network, the recent uptake of cloud services and connected applications like gaming and “live” presence that provide a great challenge to the mobile platform network architecture.

3. Visual capabilities become more and more important for consumers as the smartphones are trying to fully replace digital cameras. This calls for higher processing power and high quality algorithms to handle various aspects of image processing such as HDR and WDR processing, high density pixel processing, gesture processing, TOF and HDR Sensors. For applications like video conferencing simultaneous parallel encoding and decoding for are essential. The multi-core architecture-based system has to provide adequate processing capacity for image processing and video acceleration, feature recognition and tracking algorithms.

4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will find its way into the smartest of all smart devices. Recent revolutionary advancements in apps have shown that a more intuitive, engaging and captivating user interface will not only improve the effectiveness of the system, but also boost the productivity of users. Initially, this will incorporate a fusion of sensor information across camera, sensor networks (gyro, accelerometer, etc) and speech, emphasizing the need for an AI and Object recognition engine.

5. High end data security on video and imaging streaming services as well as secure access to cloud services and multi-OS content sharing needs to be built into the system architecture.

6. Battery life, the obvious but ever so important aspect of a mobile platform. All this processing power comes at a price and serious efforts are needed to make the mobile platforms even more power efficient.