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A major technological event in September 2020 is the release of Huawei Cloud ARM Cloud Phone. As the world’s first ARM chip cloud mobile phone independently developed by Huawei, this innovation has aroused heated discussions from the outside world. Throughout the past ten years, the concept of Alibaba Cloud mobile phones has flowed out as early as 2011, but it has gradually faded out of public view due to the scarcity of users and the failure to open up the market. Until the end of 2018, the addition of Huawei Cloud and the rise of the 5G concept once again brought the concept of cloud phones back. As a simulated mobile phone service, cloud mobile phone opened a new era of exploring the development of mobile phones.
Cloud phone CPH.Source: Huawei Cloud Help Center
As a simulated mobile phone that is neither a real phone nor a mobile phone simulator, the cloud phone is a service platform built on the CPU based on the ARM architecture to provide consumers with a virtual operating environment for some applications, that is, the application is cloudified. As a new type of application, cloud mobile phone can be regarded as an extension and expansion of physical real machine terminals, and its effects are particularly significant in cloud games, mobile office, automated simulation testing, and live interactive entertainment.
What is the high-profile cloud phone?
Simply put, a cloud phone is composed of Android OS (front-end) and cloud server (back-end). Unlike the traditional mobile phones we use daily, cloud mobile phones have no hardware carrier. Similar to loading MacOS into an Apple computer, or loading a Windows system into an ordinary computer, a cloud phone is a simulation of multiple mobile phones that install the Android phone system into the ARM server and then virtualize them in the remote server. In essence, all applications on the mobile phone are handed over to the cloud server for processing, that is, all the computing power of the original mobile phone processor is delivered to the server.
Cloud phones transmit data through the network, relying on high-speed bandwidth, and realize the functions of smart phones on the cloud server. Users usually need to use a client to log in to the cloud mobile phone service platform, such as PC, mobile APP or web page login.
Since the cloud mobile phone installation equipment is located in the remote computer room, the operation of the cloud mobile phone will not be affected when we turn on or turn off our mobile phone or computer. Even if you turn off your phone, the cloud phone can continue to run online. From this perspective, the use of cloud phones will not consume the power and data of the user terminal, or make the phone heat up. In addition, in theory, cloud mobile phones can run large applications or games 24 hours a day without occupying local resources, so it can meet the needs of some low-to-medium configuration mobile phone users.
Nextbit Robin-the ancestor of cloud mobile phones
After the applications are archived, they will turn gray on the screen and can be restored with a single tap.Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
Different from the current concept of cloud phone without hardware entity, Nextbit Robin, born in 2015, is the world’s earliest cloud phone with hardware entity. Nextbit Robin has built-in advanced cloud space algorithms, focusing on cloud storage, and will back up the phone’s applications and photos by default when the power and WIFI are turned on. There is a cloud-shaped icon on the back of the real phone with four flashing LEDs. When the Smart Storage System is working, the LED light will light up to tell the user that it is backing up.
When the Smart Storage System is active, the cloud symbol on the back has four LED lights on. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
However, Nextbit Robin’s cloud uninstall function is not satisfactory, and cloud integration has not yet been achieved. For this reason, although Nextbit Robin has opened the door to a new world of cloud mobile phones, with the passage of time, it seems that its interpretation of cloud mobile phones has been too single. In the 5G era, the market for cloud mobile phones has long been not limited to cloud storage. Cloud mobile games, cloud VR, and cloud AR are all its future business expansion directions.
Knowing the reason, but also knowing the reason-do you know the key technology of cloud mobile phones?
Taking Huawei Cloud as an example, its cloud mobile phone server contains three structures, the cloud mobile phone side, the terminal device side, and the customer business side. Huawei Cloud mobile phone is built based on Huawei’s own ARM, and its CPU natively supports the ARM instruction set. Due to the adoption of ARM instructions that are identical to those of mobile phones, Huawei Cloud Cloud mobile phones can be compatible with Android apps, that is, mobile apps can be seamlessly migrated to the cloud, achieving the same architecture as the end-cloud, laying a hardware foundation for cloud mobile phones and providing performance guarantees . In addition, all-cloud resources are easy to manage. Taking Junhai Games as an example, tests have shown that its company’s APP simulation test can significantly reduce the failure rate of the test machine from 60% to 1% with the help of cloud phones. However, it needs to be pointed out that the technical route taken by Huawei Cloud mobile phones will bring about problems such as the allocation of video memory.
Cloud mobile phone product structure.Source: Huawei Cloud official website: https://support.huaweicloud.com/productdesc-cph/cph_prod_0002.html
Huawei Cloud self-developed hardware base + Monbox software simulation architecture.Source: Huawei Cloud Community: https://bbs.huaweicloud.com/blogs/191710
When it comes to the client hardware of cloud phones, in fact, cloud phones have relatively low requirements for user terminals. Taking cloud mobile games as an example, the level of user hardware performance is no longer the deciding factor in whether the game can be controlled without stuttering. Low- and mid-range mobile phones, TVs, and smart watches can all become user terminals for large-scale 3D games. High-end processors and graphics cards are no longer indispensable configurations for users’ gaming devices. On the contrary, user terminals only need to have basic video decompression capabilities. In addition, since the content of the game is actually run in the cloud, players do not need to download the game, click and play, which also greatly reduces the player’s game entry cost and improves the player’s conversion rate.
Cloud mobile phone cloud mobile game scene operation mode.Source: Huawei Cloud Community: https://bbs.huaweicloud.com/blogs/153098
With the increasing number of mobile users over the years and the increasing popularity of mobile games, the demand for mobile games is gradually increasing. The game industry is expected to rely on the integration of 5G technology and cloud computing technology to achieve disruptive changes. However, cloud gaming, as one of the main directions of cloud mobile phones, has yet to make breakthroughs in GPU server performance, cost, and virtualization technology. For example, at the GTC 2018 conference, Nvidia released the world’s largest GPU DGX-2, which has a performance increase of 10 times compared to the DGX-1 released at the end of 2017. But even this chip is still unable to adapt to cloud games in terms of server hardware and rendering driver capabilities. In addition, cloud games are highly dependent on GPU for graphics processing. Due to the closedness of GPU structure and technical documentation and rapid technological change, it is difficult to implement cloud game GPU virtualization, which is a key point to improve the efficiency of resource integration. In addition, from the perspective of users, how to manage sensitive data and how to achieve a good user experience and efficient traffic balance are key points for cloud games to protect user privacy and improve user experience.
Nvidia DGX-2 chip.Source: Nvidia official website: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/data-center/dgx-2/
As one of the leaders in cloud server development, Tencent Cloud also proposed key technological breakthroughs for the next generation of high-performance networks in 2019. The evolution of ultra-stable virtualization platforms and gateways are two major breakthroughs for its high-performance network technology in the future. The ultra-stable virtualization platform can optimize network, storage, and computing virtualization to the greatest extent. Among them, network virtualization optimizes the processing performance of different scenarios, and computing virtualization can make up for the performance loss of virtualization in most scenarios to achieve virtualization. Compared with the physical machine single core performance loss is less than 5%. The evolution of the gateway is embodied in three aspects: one is to put service gateways such as LB and NAT on the virtualization platform to provide guarantee for its performance and stability; the second is to remove the physical gateway; the third is to hardwareize the border gateway .
Is the future of cloud mobile phones really broad roads?
Take Huawei as an example. After the world’s three major storage giants have suspended the supply of chips to Huawei, Huawei is actually committed to cloud computing to survive to a certain extent. Under this situation, the development of cloud mobile phones is a manifestation of a trend that reduces hardware usage costs, releases terminal hardware pressure, and strengthens cloud technology.
At present, Huawei Cloud mobile phones mainly face B-end customers, that is, focusing on serving the organization group, with the purpose of improving work efficiency and company benefits. From this perspective, the use of cloud phones in scenarios such as APP simulation tests can achieve effective control of manual operation costs and equipment procurement and maintenance costs. In addition, for some industries with high demand for information security, such as government departments, employees can log in to the office system through cloud mobile phones to realize the separation of public and private data and ensure the security of public data. However, cloud mobile phone manufacturers have not yet formed a scale effect, and their ability to meet the needs of individual consumers needs to be improved. The official website of Huawei Cloud shows the configuration 1 of its cloud phone-rx1.cp.c60.d10.e1v1 monthly server fee is 5950 yuan, and 60 cloud phones can be issued; configuration 2-kg1.cp.c100.d10SSD.e1v1 each The monthly server fee is 10,700 yuan, and 100 cloud phones can be issued. Therefore, when companies need to equip their employees with mobile phones, the cost-effectiveness of Huawei Cloud mobile phones is relatively high. But for individual consumers to equip themselves, the cost-effectiveness of a cloud phone is not high. It can be seen from this that in the past five years, the impact of cloud mobile phones on ordinary consumers is not significant. Mass consumers are still willing to wait and see for cloud phones that are not low-cost and have high requirements for internet speed.
However, in the long run, cloud mobile phones may become a revolutionary breakthrough in the mobile phone industry. With the gradual acceleration of the 5G infrastructure construction process, memory, chips, hard drives, etc. can be handled by remote cloud services, while traditional physical mobile phones are only used as receiving terminals and network equipment, which will also release physical mobile phone resources to a large extent .
Dianzhao is popular or irrelevant to the overall situation-how much influence does cloud mobile phone have on the mobile phone industry chain?
Analysys pointed out in the case analysis of the cloud mobile phone market in 2019 that the cloud mobile phone is still in a “new concept, small market and unsound ecological chain.” At this stage, the value of cloud mobile phones is mainly reflected in the B-end marketing. On the aspect and C-side heavy game users. However, for market players, the number of players is small (the current active users of cloud phones are less than tens of millions), and the reality of the heavy workload of self-built systems makes it impossible for cloud phones to build a complete ecological chain.
Analyzing the chart, we can see that China’s smartphone sales have shown slight fluctuations but an overall downward trend since 2014. On the contrary, the cloud mobile phone industry market has maintained a stable and good growth rate. However, cloud mobile phones are still in the early stages of development, and there are many problems that need to be solved: in terms of the market, user needs exist but have not yet been activated, and traditional mobile phone giants do not have high-frequency large-scale cooperation related to cloud mobile phones; in terms of policies, the state There is no obvious tendency in the policy, and there is no clear system of standards and rules in the industry.
China’s smart phone sales and the scale development of the cloud phone industry.Source: Analysys: https://www.analysys.cn/article/detail/20019401
China’s smart phone sales and the scale development of the cloud phone industry.Source: Analysys: https://www.analysys.cn/article/detail/20019401
After the Huawei Cloud mobile phone public test, many people questioned whether this cloud mobile phone is intended to replace the traditional real phone? Huawei’s explanation for this is that its Kunpeng Cloud mobile phone is not intended to replace physical mobile phone terminals, but a cloud server with virtual mobile phone functions, which allows mobile applications to evolve from mobile phone terminal operation to intelligent operation in the cloud.
In summary, although cloud mobile phones have a relatively small impact on the mobile phone industry chain at this stage. However, in view of the huge market potential of ARM-based servers, the acceleration of 5G infrastructure, and the greater imagination and development space of cloud mobile phones, the impact of cloud mobile phones on the mobile phone industry chain in the future is worth looking forward to.