Today we’re thrilled to announce several significant improvements to the emulator, including a dramatic performance upgrade and support for a broader range of hardware features, notably sensors and multi-finger input.
Added GPU Support
The system image we’re shipping today has built-in GPU support (Android 4.0.3 r2). With Android’s growing reliance on using the GPU to improve performance, the difference is significant. In the video below, the emulator is still interpreting ARM instructions; the performance boost is the effect of putting the GPU to work.
As a bonus, since we’re now supporting OpenGL ES 2.0, your OpenGL games can now run inside the emulator.
Please note that there are a lot of GPUs out there, and we haven’t tested all of them for this beta release, so let us know if you have feedback or encounter issues.
More Hardware Feature Emulation
The hardware features of mobile devices are a significant part of what makes them a unique platform for development, so we’re also pleased to announce that in addition to the camera support we added last year, it’s now possible to use a tethered Android device to supply inputs for sensors and multi-touch input.
We’re working on providing emulator support for more hardware features including Bluetooth and NFC.
Improved CPU Performance
We’ve also improved the CPU performance of the Android emulator. Hardware floating point operation has been available for system images since Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), allowing CPU operations to be emulated roughly twice as quickly.
Last week’s r17 developer tools release included x86 system images and host drivers (available through the SDK Manager), allowing the emulator to access the host CPU natively and offer significantly faster execution.
This video shows a CPU-bound application on two emulators running the same system image, one with virtualization, one without.