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ART technology: what really is and what the advantage over Dalvik?

Along with Android 4.4 KitKat, launched late last year, Google decided to embark on a new virtual machine version of their mobile operating system, the ART (Android Runtime), which promises to make the implementation much more efficient apps. In order to test the new technology with the general public and optimize it until its official launch, Google has made available to owners of Nexus 4.4 devices Kitkat with the possibility of experiencing what may be one of the biggest changes in Android since its inception . But after all, what’s this ART and what improvements it brings?


Runtime chooser

To understand the benefits of the new runtime ART , we have to resort to technical details of the two systems . Applications running on Android today using a virtual machine (VM ) called Dalvik , created by Dan Borstein since the first version of the system. Basically , programs are written in Java and then converted into machine code called bytecode – an intermediate step between source code and readable code by hardware . At this stage , the code is not tied to any specific machine code and can be converted to run on several different architectures ( portability ) . Finally , the Dalvik VM bytecode translates into a code readable by the machine in question , code that is actually executed by the main processor . This translation ( compilation ) occurs during the execution of the application , which gives its name to the technique used for this: JIT (Just In Time ) .

ART , in turn , is designed to use a technique called compile AOT ( Ahead Of Time ) . Its main difference from the Dalvik is that it occurs before the execution of the application – and not during , as the JIT – which eliminates this step during runtime . Thus , we expect an increase in execution speed up to 2 times compared to Dalvik , reducing the perception of lag .

By way of illustration, a graphic benchmark follows a simple sorting algorithm ( quicksort ) values ​​run under ART ( red) , Dalvik ( blue) and Java Native Interface ( orange), which is the Java Virtual Machine running on a computer common.



ART, however, is not a bed of roses. The installation of the applications will be noticeably slow for complex applications and they use more space in the memory. Nevertheless, the promised improvements outweigh these points, which should also be minimized in future versions of Android.

The ART has no date to replace Dalvik for now. Some speculate that the mysterious is still Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie. Others believe it should take some more time to mature. Meanwhile, for those wishing to try the new feature, is worth remembering that many applications are not yet compatible with it and can give force close. Some examples are: WhatsApp, Pandora, Titanium Backup and Ingress.

And you, what do you think or are finding the new Android runtime? Think he promising? Leave your comments below!