Author Topic: Huawei's Android alternative, HarmonyOS  (Read 799 times)


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Huawei's Android alternative, HarmonyOS
« on: August 31, 2019, 03:04:56 AM »
Huawei reveals HarmonyOS, its alternative to Android | Engadget - 08.09.19

Yu's presentation was rather technical but in a nutshell, HarmonyOS is positioned as a future-proof, "microkernel-based, distributed OS for all scenarios." The platform is open source, and it's actually more of a competitor to Google's upcoming Fuchsia, given that both are microkernel-based and can be used on multiple types of devices at once. In his on-stage presentation he said that Android isn't as efficient due to its redundant codes, outdated scheduling mechanism and general fragmentation issues. Shots fired.

With a microkernel design, HarmonyOS should be safer from the get-go as there is no root access available; the microkernel is protected by isolation from external kernel services. The system also applies formal verification -- a set of mathematical approaches used in security-critical fields -- to reliably spot vulnerabilities, whereas traditional methods are likely to miss some.

In addition to being a lightweight system, Huawei says HarmonyOS will offer some performance boosts. For one, it'll feature a "Deterministic Latency Engine" that can better allocate system resources using real-time analysis and forecasting. Android, on the other hand, is stuck with the Linux kernel's less-intelligent fair scheduling mechanism. HarmonyOS also allows for very fast "Inter Process Communication" -- the link between its microkernel and external kernel services like file systems, networks, drivers, apps and more. Huawei claims that HarmonyOS' IPC performance is five times that of Google's Fuchsia, and three times that of QNX.

According to Yu, HarmonyOS has been in the works since 2017, and the version Huawei unveiled today will initially target smart display products, such as the Huawei Vision due later this year. While this release still packs a Linux kernel and Huawei's earlier LiteOS kernel alongside its own microkernel, version 2.0, which is expected sometime in 2020, will feature just a HarmonyOS microkernel, thus making it a true HarmonyOS. It'll also support high-performance graphics then, to the point where the company hopes it will be powering "innovative PCs" along with wearables, in-car head units, speakers and VR glasses.

It's clear that Huawei has intentionally avoided mentioning "smartphones" in its slides and press materials today, likely to avoid upsetting its partners over at Google, but Yu wasn't afraid to admit that there may come a time when his company can no longer support the Android ecosystem. Regardless, developers will be able to port their Android apps over to HarmonyOS using Huawei's ARK compiler.

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