Characterizing the Deep Neural Networks Inference Performance of Mobile Applications

Samuel S. Ogden, Tian Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today’s mobile applications are increasingly leveraging deep neural networks to provide novel features, such as image and speech recognitions. To use a pre-trained deep neural network, mobile developers can either host it in a cloud server, referred to as cloud-based inference, or ship it with their mobile application, referred to as on-device inference. In this work, we investigate the inference performance of these two common approaches on both mobile devices and public clouds, using popular convolutional neural networks. Our measurement study suggests the need for both on-device and cloud-based inferences for supporting mobile applications. In particular, newer mobile devices is able to run mobile-optimized CNN models in reasonable time. However, for older mobile devices or to use more complex CNN models, mobile applications should opt in for cloud-based inference. We further demonstrate that variable network conditions can lead to poor cloud-based inference end-to-end time. To support efficient cloud-based inference, we propose a CNN model selection algorithm called CNNSelect that dynamically selects the most appropriate CNN model for each inference request, and adapts its selection to match different SLAs and execution time budgets that are caused by variable mobile environments. The key idea of CNNSelect is to make inference speed and accuracy trade-offs at runtime using a set of CNN models. We demonstrated that CNNSelect smoothly improves inference accuracy while maintaining SLA attainment in 88.5% more cases than a greedy baseline. 
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • DNN inference service
  • DNN model management
  • Mobile application
  • performance optimization


  • Computer Sciences

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