When you're looking at storage for your phone, you'll want to pay attention to more than just the number of gigabytes. Researchers at NEC tested embedded flash memory cards in several Android smartphones and determined that depending on how well storage performed, application launch speed and performance varied between 100 and 300 percent. While CPU and network quality are often considered more important for things like web browsing, for instance, the team found that just changing the flash storage caused an average variation of 187 percent in browsing speed over Wi-Fi. In one case, performance dropped over 2000 percent. Slower-performing storage also caused the CPU to consume more energy, running the battery down.

Besides upgrading flash hardware or augmenting it with a small amount of higher-performing storage, the group suggests restructuring file systems and favoring sequential writes over random ones, which dramatically slow down phones. A new SQLite backend, for example, might be able to help flash performance without changing the way applications would need to be coded. At the same time, current flash technology runs up against some hard barriers when chip density is increased, meaning that we'll need to come up with new solutions as phones need more storage space. The research was discussed at the Usenix Conference on File and Storage Technologies this week, and can be found in full at the source link below.