Why is the Android emulator so slow? How can we speed up the Android emulator?



Answers

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please first refer to the Intel list about VT to make sure your CPU supports Intel VT.

HAXM Speeds Up the Slow Android Emulator

HAXM stands for - "Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager"

Currently it supports only Intel® VT (Intel Virtualization Technology).

The Android emulator is based on QEMU. The interface between QEMU and the HAXM driver on the host system is designed to be vendor-agnostic.

Steps for Configuring Your Android Development Environment for HAXM

  1. Update Eclipse: Make sure your Eclipse installation and the ADT plug-in are fully up-to-date.

  2. Update your Android Tools: After each Eclipse plug-in update, it is important to update your Android SDK Tools. To do this, launch the Android SDK Manager and update all the Android SDK components. To take advantage of HAXM, you must be on at least release version 17.

  • Download the x86 Atom System Images and the Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager Driver. Follow the image below:

  • Install the HAXM Driver by running "IntelHaxm.exe". It will be located in one of following locations:

    • C:\Program Files\Android\android-sdk\extras\intel\Hardware_Accelerated_Execution_Manager

    • C:\Users\<user>\adt-bundle-windows-x86_64\sdk\extras\intel\Hardware_Accelerated_Execution_Manager

    If the installer fails with the message that Intel VT must be turned on, you need to enable this in the BIOS. See the description for how to do this in Enabling Intel VT (Virtualization Technology) .

  • Create a new x86 AVD: Follow the image below:

  • Or as for new SDK,
Question

I have got a 2.67  GHz Celeron processor, and 1.21  GB of RAM on a x86 Windows XP Professional machine.

My understanding is that the Android Emulator should start fairly quickly on such a machine, but for me, it does not. I have followed all the instructions in setting up the IDE, SDKs, JDKs and such and have had some success in starting the emulator quickly, but that is very rare. How can I, if possible, fix this problem?

Even if it starts and loads the home screen, it is very sluggish. I have tried the Eclipse IDE in version 3.5 (Galileo) and 3.4 (Ganymede).




You can create emulator.bat with following command to start the emulator. It will start faster.

emulator.exe -cpu-delay 0 -no-boot-anim @<avd name>

Or on Unix (Mac or Linux flavors):

emulator -cpu-delay 0 -no-boot-anim @<avd name>



Android emulator release 9 has a new "snapshot" feature. You can save the state of the emulator (make an image of the emulator) and avoid booting when you start the emulator.




To add further information to this.

I have recently upgraded my Ubuntu installation to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) which in turn updated my Java version to:

Java version "1.6.0_20"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_20-b02)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 16.3-b01, mixed mode)

And now the emulator (although takes a while to start) seems to be running faster than previously.

It might be worth people upgrading their JVM.




The current (May 2011) version of the emulator is slow particularly with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) primarily because the emulator does not support hardware GL -- this means that the GL code gets translated into software (ARM software, in fact) which then gets emulated in software in QEMU. This is crazy-slow. They're working on this problem and have it partially solved, but not with any sort of release quality.

Check out the video Google I/O 2011: Android Development Tools to see it in action -- jump to about 44 minutes.







The startup of the emulator is very slow. The good thing is that you only need to start the emulator once. If the emulator is already running and you run your app again, the emulator reinstalls the app relatively quickly. Of course, if you want to know how fast it will run on a phone, it is best to test it on a real phone.




Here's what I noticed nobody mentioned it at all.

Assign all available processors to the emulator

Here's what you can try. It does speed up the emulator for me, especially during loading time. I noticed the emulator is only using a single core of the available CPU. I set it to use all available processors.

I'm using Windows 7.

When the Android emulator is starting, open up the Task Manager, look under the Process tab, look for "emulator-arm.exe" or "emulator-arm.exe *32"... Right click on it, select Processor Affinity and assign as much processor as you like to the emulator.




After developing for a while, my emulator became brutally slow. I chose wipe user data, and it was much much better. I am guessing that it takes time to load up each APK file you've deployed.




I had intermittent slow emulator (SDK v8.0) load times, up to three minutes on Intel Core i7 920 2.67 GHz CPU running on Xubuntu 10.04 VirtualBox 3.2.12 guest with Eclipse (3.6.1) loaded. I changed the VirtualBox guest memory from 1024 MB to 2048 MB and from that point on, I never experienced the slowness again (load times consistent at 33 seconds, CPU load consistent at 20%). Both Eclipse and the emulator are memory hogs.




The older Android versions run a lot faster. When I'm on my netbook, I use Android 1.5 (API level 3). There are a couple of drawbacks, though--your apps need to support the older platforms (obviously), and ndk-gdb requires running Android 2.2 (API level 8) or higher. But regularly testing apps against older platforms is a good idea anyway.




Try to disable your antivirus. Maybe it will make emulator a little bit faster.




The emulator seems to slow itself down when idle. This is made apparent by rapidly mousing over the keys on the side and observing the light-up responses. As a workaround, I pass -icount auto to QEMU when starting the emulator. You can make a batch file called my_avd.bat to do it for you:

emulator @my_avd -no-boot-anim -qemu -icount auto
  • @my_avd -- launch a virtual device named 'my_avd'
  • -no-boot-anim -- disable animation for faster boot
  • -qemu args... -- pass arguments to qemu
  • -icount [N|auto] -- enable virtual instruction counter with 2^N clock ticks per instruction

This made animations buttery smooth and sped up adb install tenfold.




UPDATE: The latest version of Android studio (2.x) made major improvements to the bundled emulator. It's responsive and has a whole bunch of features.

For those still interested: Try using Genymotion. You can download a version for Windows/Mac OS X/Linux after registering. A plugin for Eclipse is also available:

The installation of the plugin can be done by launching Eclipse and going to "Help / Install New Software" menu, then just add a new Update Site with the following URL: http://plugins.genymotion.com/eclipse. Follow the steps indicated by Eclipse.

This emulator is fast and responsive.

GenyMotion allow you to control various sensors of your device including the battery level, signal strength and GPS. The latest version now also contains camera tools.




I noticed that the my emulator (Eclipse plugin) was significantly slowed by my Nvidia graphics card anti-aliasing settings. Removing 2x anti aliasing from the graphics menu and changing it to application controlled made it more responsive. It is still slow, but better than it used to be.




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