As further confirmation of the opportunities that the RISC-V architecture is opening up for many producers on a global scale (even for companies that until now have not been able to count on large budgets…), Google had indicated RISC-V as a first-level architecture for Android. The news is that the developers of the Mountain View company are working on a RISC-V emulator for Android which will see the light next year.
Google spokespeople say the RISC-V support on Android it has already reached a good level of maturation. Furthermore, the company explains further, the RISC-V processors developed by Google and Qualcomm can already be considered to “high performance“: the technicians are focusing on enabling all the functions that are necessary today and can be called directly from the operating system.
Cuttlefish enables RISC-V support on Android
Google also presented Cuttlefish, a virtual Android device that allows developers to enable Android support for RISC-V. The new functionality is not fully optimized but the company is making important steps forward on this front.
According to Google, engineers are working on implementing a backend fully compatible with Android Runtime. To ensure the app compatibility, Google will finalize the Android ABI for RISC-V in the second half of 2023, making test builds available immediately. This will allow programmers to test RISC-V code on x86-64 and AMR64 platforms.
ABI stands for Application Binary Interface and is a set of rules and conventions that establish how applications interact with the operating system and other parts of the software on a particular type of hardware architecture or platform. Thanks to ABI it is possible to establish how programs communicate and interact with the underlying system, such as function calls, memory management, data type representation and other binary level operations.
Try the RISC-V based virtual Android device
It is already possible to try it today Cuttlefish on their computers, exactly as is already possible with any other alternative target platform:
$ lunch aosp_cf_riscv64_phone-userdebug
$ m -j
$ launch_cvd -cpus=8 -memory_mb=8192
The three commands can be used to start the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) operating system on a RISC-V virtual machine. The first selects and sets the compilation environment; the second starts the compilation process within the AOSP environment; the third indicates the number of virtual cores to be used and the memory in megabytes.
In 2024 a RISC-V emulator for Androiduseful for testing applications under development on devices with various form factors.
Google is collaborating with companies such as Intel, MediaTek, NVidia and Qualcomm on the project RISC-V Software Ecosystem (RISE): Its goal is to ensure the availability of a dedicated version of Android for RISC-V. The company is in fact investing confidently in the RISC-V platform and RISC-V will arrive on Google Wear OS in October 2023.