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Code commit indicates the end may be near for Android Dalvik

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Code commit indicates the end may be near for Android Dalvik
In Android 4.4 KitKat, we got a bit of a preview of the next Android RunTime called ART (get it?) Google made it known that ART was planned to replace the current runtime, Dalvik; and, a new code commit to the Android Open Source Project makes it look like that switch could be coming very soon, as in the next version of Android.

The new code commit is pretty basic, but causes a big change: it switches the default runtime from Dalvik to ART. What that will mean in technical terms is that Android will switch from the Dalvik "just-in-time" compiler, where the app bytecode is compiled and run when you run the app, to the ART "ahead-of-time" compiler. This means that the app bytecode will be compiled when you install the app and only the pieces of the app you need will run, when you need it. In terms of what users will see, this means that apps will run faster and more efficiently, but they will also take up a bit more space on your device. 

Of course, this is just a change in the default for Android. Dalvik isn't necessarily disappearing, but that seems to be the most likely end scenario here. We still don't know when the next version of Android will hit, or whether it will be a full version bump (5.0) or another incremental bump (4.5).

source: AOSP via Android Police

42 Comments
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posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:12 1

1. mr.techdude (Posts: 541; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


It does sound like a good idea/feature but when you say "take up abit more space.....device" does that mean ram or internal memory?

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:13 8

4. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Internal memory. Depending on the app, it can take anywhere from 5-50MB of extra space. That's why it's best to get a 32GB model of a phone.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:58 1

22. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5580; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


I think more and more manufacturers will set 32 Gb as the minimum RAM specification going forward. Whether that is due to higher RAM requirements of the OS, or competitive pressure, I suspect it is a little of both. But net-net, 8 Gb of RAM was so 2010. 16 Gb is probably on its last legs for flagship smartphones. 2015 should see more and more flagships sporting 32 Gb as the entry level specification.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 22:33 7

24. Reluctant_Human (Posts: 847; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


Ummm.. I think you have RAM and internal memory confused..

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 22:37 1

25. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


ROM and RAM are two different things. ROM= storage as RAM is for.. well, you know.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 05:35

35. JonBjSig (Posts: 176; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)


RAM is the memory, I'm pretty sure you're talking about storage.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 08:51

36. domfonusr (Posts: 312; Member since: 17 Jan 2014)


Also, using the symbol for Gigabits (Gb) rather than Gigabytes (GB)... that interpretation actually makes the numbers a little more believable, but I don't see any phones now with 4GB of RAM, so it still doesn't quite jive.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:12 3

2. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Full 64-bit support please.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:40 4

10. boosook (Posts: 928; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


Why ?

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 19:04 2

12. grahaman27 (Posts: 347; Member since: 05 Apr 2013)


To utilize armv8 runtime.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:19 5

15. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Once Android fully supports ARMv8 (A57 aka 64-bit), it will be unstoppable. I really want to see what Google does with Android in 2014.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 22:00 2

23. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5580; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


I think you will have to wait until 2015 for full 64-bit implementation in Android. Too much conversion overhead for a 2014 release.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 22:40 2

26. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


I'm pretty sure Google has something up it's sleeves. KitKat was pretty much a surprise, so I'm waiting for the next version of Android, especially if Qualcomm and Samsung already have 64-bit processors almost completed.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 01:48

33. Finalflash (Posts: 1536; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


You can get ARMv8 without 64bit, the instruction set works for both but 64 bit is added to it unlike older versions. Moving forward all chips will likely be on v8 so 64 bit or not they can have the same advantages.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 19:05 1

13. night_elf (Posts: 38; Member since: 02 Apr 2013)


I bet its on the way, the Exynos 6 needs a new Android version!

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:12 5

3. AfterShock (Posts: 2522; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)


Running ART on a few Nexus here, all is good.
One pay off of it, is that scrolling in apps like chrome even is smooth.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:14 7

5. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


When I had ART enabled on my S3 back in November, everything was 50% faster, which is definitely worth the extra storage space.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:41

11. mr.techdude (Posts: 541; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


How do you enable it, does this work on all android phones like HTC one/x

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:01 3

14. vincelongman (Posts: 1015; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


It's select runtime in developer options (You need Kitkat)

Also somethings aren't compilable yet, e.g. xpose framework and nova.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:21 2

16. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Your AT&T One X may never see the light of day on an official 4.4 update. What you can do is root it and flash CM11 (Android 4.4.2 KitKat) and enable ART.

Unless you have a Nexus, Moto X or flagship phone, 4.4 shouldn't be in your calendar in the future.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:28

18. tyger11 (Posts: 63; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


CM doesn't do ART, does it? Unless that's coming in a future version...

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:31

20. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Post #5.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 22:42

27. tedkord (Posts: 4458; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


CM doesn't support ART. You actually get a warning when you get to enable it that it could cause issues. ART worked for me on early versions of CM11 (though it did muck up a few apps). But on every version lately it just causes reboots and FCs.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 22:43 1

29. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Never had a problem running ART on my old S3. It gave me a warning, yes, but never had a negative impact. Hell I'm running ART on my brand new Moto X (fu-----g love it BTW).

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 09:25

39. __0__ (Posts: 232; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)


How is it ? I want a moto X but it wasnt sold in my country , settled for a note 3 instead . Hated sh1twiz but running official kitkat here

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 16:16

40. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


It's just as fast as my Note 3 (still have it) but typing on the smaller screen is a little drawback. Battery life is slightly less than what I had with the Note 3 but the call quality is definitely better (Moto's radios are better). Speaker isn't as loud as I'd like, especially during phone calls, but it's still good.

Overall, this phone is definitely worth the $300 I got it for.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 00:19

31. TheOldOne (Posts: 80; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)


ART is enabled in 4.4,so starting with CM11.
If you have it, you can switch from Dalvik to ART from Developer Options->Runtime. The phone will restart and take a while to rebuild the cache, depending on how may apps you have it may take 20-30min (I have 150aps).

I have not noticed a stellar performace improvment, and you need to note that not all of your apps will work afterwards as not all of them are ART compatible. If this happens, you need to revert back to Dalvik.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 00:25

32. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


It took me 6 minutes lol.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 22:18

42. sprockkets (Posts: 1146; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


It actually makes it available to devices that otherwise could have it, like the Nexus 7 in 2012. The 2013 stock ROM has the option available.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:31

19. mr.techdude (Posts: 541; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


Thx I know HTC one x ain't getting 4.4 but my HTC one will, also I have the nexus 7 2013 and 2012 both 4.4 yet the 2012 model doesn't show the runtime option, why is that?

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 22:42

28. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


ART is more for newer devices. If you're rooted, you can run ART. As for the stock N7 2012, Google left it out in place for TRIM back in 4.3.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 16:25 1

41. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3935; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


ART is only for Snapdragon devices apparently, at least on Nexus devices. Both the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 (2012) don't have the runtime switching option, but the Nexus 4, 5, and 7 (2013) do. Maybe in the next Android update it will be enabled for Exynos and Tegra.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 01:51

34. Finalflash (Posts: 1536; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


I think Canadian HTC one just got kitkat so you can probably use that rom since the Canadians have the same phone as the US AT&T model. Check xda for update on that.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:16 2

6. Killertech2099 (Posts: 138; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


ART is fast and buttery smooth, custom roms are starting have it , i hope developers continue to push towards ART

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:18

7. __0__ (Posts: 232; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)


Yeah why Samsung disables ART for note 3 KitKat ???

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:23

9. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


It really doesn't need it.. BUT I kind of wish they included it though.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 09:21

38. __0__ (Posts: 232; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)


Same here

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 18:21

8. domfonusr (Posts: 312; Member since: 17 Jan 2014)


This is a trade-off that can be made now, with larger memory modules in modern smartphones as compared to the older ones. Symbian always ran a just-in-time compiler, but then again it was rare to have more than 100 MB of onboard memory on Symbian devices back in the day. This could certainly result in smoother operation on Android phones, which, whether true or not, has been a criticism against Android in the past.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:22 5

17. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Android has been smooth since 4.1 thanks to Project Butter. KitKat (4.4) with ART enabled is a cheetah on crack.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 21:49

21. domfonusr (Posts: 312; Member since: 17 Jan 2014)


Ah, that explains why my LG Viper is still a bit laggy... it is running Android 4.0.4, and no ability to be updated to anything newer. I found out I cannot even root the thing. I almost tried, and my last-minute research turned up the problem that this phone suffers when anyone tries to root it. I don't want to brick the thing, so, I'll just have to stick to my crazy Python scripts and tweaking things within the confines of the existing dev options.

In some ways, KitKat sounds nicer all the time, though.

posted on 31 Jan 2014, 22:46 1

30. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7647; Member since: 14 May 2012)


If you have the extra money, I'd upgrade to a newer model to take advantage of Sprint Spark when it becomes available in your city. Also, take advantage of current gen technology (new LTE chips, batteries, software, etc.) to give you more bang for buck in the long run.

posted on 01 Feb 2014, 08:56

37. domfonusr (Posts: 312; Member since: 17 Jan 2014)


Nope, all out of extra money, and no new extra money arriving any time soon. I got the LG Viper as a free gift from a friend... it was his old phone on Sprint, and I don't even use Sprint. My family has AT&T, so I am just playing around with the thing on WiFi, trying to explore what I can do with it without a cellular connection for now. Also wondering if I should try to sell the thing, or if it isn't worth the attempt because of its age and outdated specs. I'm not going to sell the thing if I can only get $30 for it, like the sale of my Nokia E75 a year and a half ago (though I didn't get the $30 - it was a sheriff's sale).

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