ARM’s latest processor is significant because it’s the second ARM processor to support virtualization at the hardware level, showing ARM’s commitment to using virtualization technology in mobile devices. About this time last year, ARM launched the Cortex-A15, the first ARM processor with a virtualization extension in its architecture. Watch me explain more in this video from the ARM Cortex-A7 launch event.
Virtualization Comes to Mobile Devices
Virtualization has been used widely in servers and desktops, and a few years ago it emerged in mobile phones. The early implementations of Mobile Virtualization enabled semiconductor vendors and device manufacturers to quickly bring to market low-cost Android smartphones by enabling them to run Android on a virtualized baseband processor. But that was just the beginning of how virtualization can make mobile devices better, and ARM is now taking a leading role in driving adoption of the technology in dual-core and quad-core architectures.
In 2010, Red Bend acquired leading Mobile Virtualization provider VirtualLogix, whose VLX™ hypervisor has been used to virtualize more commercially available mobile devices than any other provider. Red Bend has been part of the ARM Connected Community since 2006 to drive the adoption of Firmware Over-the-Air (FOTA) updating into more than 1 Billion mobile phones and connected devices, and now we’re partnering with ARM to make it easier and faster for our mutual licensees to take full advantage of Mobile Virtualization.
Benefits of Hardware Support for Mobile Virtualization
Adding hardware support for virtualization will mean better performance and greater security for the next generation of smart devices. When virtualization is enabled by the processor, it will allow mobile devices to have dedicated, isolated execution environments for use cases such as enterprise security, and will provide near-native performance. It also means faster integration time for semiconductor vendors and OEMs to take advantage of the benefits of virtualization.
One of the innovative ways ARM is using the virtualization extension is to enable big.LITTLE processing. A Type-1 hypervisor, such as Red Bend’s VLX software, will enable switching between a Cortex-A15 processor(s) and Cortex-A7 processor(s), delivering the right performance for the right task, and ultimately extending battery life.
What’s Next with Mobile Virtualization?
With hypervisors integrated into the next generation of smart devices, it also enables a new class of smartphones and tablets where two virtual devices (with two distinct operating systems) are running simultaneously, separately and securely on the same hardware. Many consumers today want to use their personal mobile phones for work. Yet the majority of these devices use open platforms such as Android, posing significant challenges for CIOs who must protect access to corporate data and applications. Mobile Virtualization will enable consumers to carry one phone for work and life, without compromising enterprise security or personal privacy.
Guest Partner Blogger:
ARM welcomes its wealth of Partners in the ARM Connected Community (CC) to submit guest blogs to be published on our multiple community blogs. If interested in participating please submit email inquiries to Tell.Us@arm.com.
The ARM Connected Community (CC) is an extensive ecosystem covering all aspects of ARM processor-based design, from chip implementation through to system and device design. The CC provides a platform for collaborative innovation, with multiple types of forums for members to work with one another, and with customers, to solve industry challenges, all with the purpose of enabling designers to focus on differentiating features and an accelerated time-to-market for ARM powered solutions.
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