If you're a fan of Linux on ARM hardware, you've probably heard of Linaro. If not, the short version is that they're a group of ultra-smart engineers who work on optimizing open-source and Linux software (and the tools to build them) for the ARM architecture. Yes, Linaro comprises the people who build the tools regular nerds use to build apps and software. Why am I rambling on about Linaro, you ask? First, because every embedded Linux nerd (hi there!) has a secret crush on the whole team, and also because they have shown off Ice Cream Sandwich built with their optimization process. It's fast. Very fast. Faster at benchmarks than you ever thought an OMAP 4430 could ever be. So much faster that it's going to translate into real-world benefits, unlike many of the other tweaks and tricks there are for Android.

How can this happen? In the video after the break, Bernhard Rosenkränzer, Android toolchain expert at Linaro,  puts it in perfect perspective. Google builds Android. Linaro takes it and tweaks it, squeezing out every bit of performance possible. Using the Android 4.0.4 source as a base, the fellows at Linaro have tweaked both the source (string routines in Bionic are mentioned by name) and the tools used to compile it. It's like those guys on TV who tinker with car engines to get performance that GM or Ford could never imagine. Make no mistake -- this is not something you can flash on your phone and make it work. Yet.

As Rosenkränzer explains, everything Linaro does is open source. The folks at CM can (and are) working with it, as well as the collective behind AOKP. Linaro is even submitting changes back to the Android Open Source Project so Google can review and use the tweaks that offer performance increase without affecting stability. Linaro working closely with Google would be like chocolate and peanut butter. This Linux and Android nerd hopes it happens. Be sure to watch the video after the break!

Source: CNX Software. More: Linaro


Reader comments

Linaro shows big improvements to Android 4.0.4 with ARM optimization


i wonder if the performance improvement is significant enough as to breath new life into older devices. i would love to one day see my old (and retired) original droid run ICS.

I'm one of those private testers, and I was blown away by the speed of my opti, heck, it was running rings around my stock transformer prime!

I didn't think anything of this at first. But if Jerry says it's legit, I have to believe him.

I have an unofficial Linaro CM9 build. Doesn't show much performance increase (if at all). At least not yet.

I'm excited for this, but so far I'm reading mixed reports. Both huge performance claims from some to others saying no noticeable difference. I'll reserve judgment, but the hype is definitely exciting.

First of all i do believe that not all of the changes (The one he demoed on the Pandaboard) has been included in these builds, so there might still be some performance to get.

Also worth noting is that the "mixed reviews" are probably from different devices, a device like the Galaxy Nexus is not a lot more powerful with the changes, but the lower end devices may see a better effect since it has a huge improvement in some areas regarding memory usage.

But again, it may be worth waiting for the full implementation.

This is the kind of cooperation and development that was meant to happen. Thank God it's finally taking place! Here's to a future of open-source goodness, free of tyranny!

This is very cool - thank goodness for guys like this - AOKP has already made me feel like upgrade is not imperative, but this could make me forget all about it. Can't wait to hear Jerry go more on depth on this.

Bernhard Rosenkränzer... Jerry Hildenbrand... Has anybody ever actually seen these two together? In the same room at the same time? I just can't figure out which one is Clark Kent.

I flashed the re-released AOKP build 38 with Linaro. I'd definitely say my LTE Galaxy Nexus is generally snappier in pretty much everything I do. The little stutters and lags that used to show up in daily usage are basically gone. This isn't a mind blowing change like strapping twin turbos on a Corvette, mind you, but it's definitely noticeable on my device.

I just flashed this ROM tonight and so far it's a little snappier than Build 38 was. I'll give it a few days and see how it does