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Digital Machine as a core Android Primitive

Digital Machine as a core Android Primitive

2023-12-05 16:55:51

Posted by Sandeep Patil – Principal Software program Engineer, and Irene Ang – Product Supervisor

The Android Virtualization Framework (AVF) will probably be out there on upcoming choose Android 14 gadgets. The AVF, first launched in Android 13 on Pixel gadgets, supplies new capabilities for platform builders engaged on privileged purposes.

With AVF, we’re extra broadly supporting virtualization to Android. Virtualization is extensively used and deployed to isolate workloads and working techniques from one another. It allows environment friendly scaling of infrastructure, testing environments, legacy software program compatibility, creating digital desktops and way more.

With AVF digital machines turn into a core assemble of the Android working system, just like the best way Android makes use of Linux processes. Builders have the flexibleness to decide on the extent of isolation for a digital machine:

    • One-way isolation: Android (the host) can management and examine the contents of the VM. These are mostly used for sandboxing and separation, enabling a number of working techniques to run on the identical machine / machine, with one working system host (Android) controlling and watching over all others.
    • Two-way isolation (Remoted VM): Android (the host) and the digital machine (the visitor) are fully remoted from one another. Builders who cope with or retailer delicate knowledge could profit from an remoted digital machine. An remoted digital machine has a two-way barrier, the place neither the host (Android) nor the VM have entry to one another, besides by way of explicitly-agreed-upon communication channels. This has 2 foremost properties:
  1. The workload and knowledge contained in the VM is inaccessible (confidential) from the host (Android).
  2. Even when Android is compromised all the best way as much as (and together with) the host kernel, the remoted VM stays uncompromised.

Advantages of AVF


With an remoted VM, builders now have a substitute for Trustzone to be used circumstances that want isolation from Android with out escalated privilege.


Digital machines and the purposes working inside them are way more moveable than trusted applets. For instance, a Linux-based digital machine with a Linux-application payload will work on all gadgets that help AVF. Which means builders can construct an software as soon as and deploy it in every single place. VMs additionally make porting of current Linux based mostly purposes seamless and straightforward, in comparison with porting right into a Trustzone working system.


AVF is designed to be light-weight, environment friendly and versatile. Digital machines can:

    • be as small as a single C program and as massive as a whole working system relying on the developer’s want;
    • be persistent or intermittent;
    • develop in reminiscence or shrink relying on the general system well being; and
    • honor Android’s scheduler hints and low-memory warnings.


AVF is designed with builders in thoughts. Digital machines may be personalized to fulfill particular use-case wants. Builders can deploy any VM payload so long as it conforms to sure boot and communication protocols specified by AVF.

Along with bringing the facility of virtualization to Android and enabling all the probabilities of digital desktops, sandboxing, AVF’s use of remoted digital machines can profit the next frequent Android use circumstances (and plenty of extra):

    • Biometrics: By deploying biometric trusted applets in an remoted digital machine, builders could have the isolation assure, entry to extra compute energy for biometric algorithms, simple updatability whatever the Trustzone working system, and a extra streamlined deployment.
    • DRM: Widevine allows streaming DRM on Android gadgets. As soon as deployed in an remoted Digital Machine, updates to Widevine turn into a lot simpler throughout Android gadgets, whatever the particulars of the varied Trustzone working techniques being deployed on these gadgets.

AVF Utilization

AVF supplies simple APIs to question the machine’s capability to create digital machines and their supported sorts, and to arrange safe communication channels with these digital machines from purposes and providers that create them.

For instance, to examine for the provision of the AVF APIs, and of remoted and common VM:

VirtualMachineManager supervisor =
if (supervisor == null) {
    // AVF not supported
} else {
    int capabilities = supervisor.getCapabilities();
    if ((capabilities & CAPABILITY_PROTECTED_VM) != 0) {
        // protected VM is supported
    if ((capabilities & CAPABILITY_NON_PROTECTED_VM) != 0) {
        // non protected VM is supported

Please discover extra documentation on AVF and its APIs here.

AVF Elements

AVF Component architecture

AVF consists of the framework APIs, the hypervisor, and the Digital Machine Supervisor. The hypervisor ensures digital machines (together with Android) are remoted from one another, very like how the Linux kernel does it for processes. The AVF hypervisor (pKVM), nonetheless, does that with a considerably smaller (~50x) code base in comparison with the Linux kernel.

The Hypervisor (pKVM)

The hypervisor is concentrated on open supply availability, safety, machine project to VMs and safety by isolation between digital machines. It has a small assault floor that meets a better safety assurance degree. AVF APIs and options are absolutely supported by the protected KVM hypervisor (pKVM).

pKVM is constructed on high of the business commonplace Kernel-based Digital Machine (KVM) in Linux. It means all current working techniques and workloads that depend on KVM-based digital machines can work seamlessly on Android gadgets with pKVM.

Digital Machine Supervisor (crosvm)

crosvm, a Rust-based Digital Machine Supervisor (VMM), supplies the glue between the hypervisor and the AVF framework. It’s accountable for creating, managing and destroying digital machines. As well as, it supplies an abstraction layer throughout a number of hypervisor implementations.

Remoted Digital Machines

Remoted digital machines are invisible to Android i.e. any course of working in Android can’t examine, see, tamper with the content material of such a digital machine. This assure is supplied by the hypervisor.

See Also

Digital Machines

Digital machines are the identical as remoted VMs, besides they’re accessible to Android processes with the suitable permissions and privilege.


Microdroid is a trimmed down Android OS package deal that’s created to function a template for beginning a digital machine (VM). It supplies builders with a well-recognized surroundings to construct and run their workloads in a VM. Microdroid makes use of acquainted Android instruments and libraries, similar to Bionic, Binder IPC and keystore help.

Virtualization Service

VirtualizationService manages all visitor VMs, remoted or in any other case. It does so, primarily by managing situations of crosvm. It additionally exposes an AIDL API, which system providers or privileged apps can use to begin, monitor, and cease VMs.


RpcBinder is an all-new backend developed for the Android Interface Definition Language (AIDL). RpcBinder allows communication to and from digital machines utilizing the present binder wire protocol. This implies:

  1. Builders can write interfaces to digital machines utilizing the language and infrastructure they’re already aware of – AIDL.
  2. Merely proceed utilizing current AIDL interfaces even when the binder endpoint strikes right into a digital machine.

What’s new in Android 14?

Android 14, not solely makes AVF out there on extra gadgets, it additionally supplies a brand new toolkit to allow constructing extra with AVF and its parts:

    • Android System API for AVF 

Privileged purposes can now use VMs for executing their essential workload needing isolation; 

    • Hypervisor DevEx toolkit 

Added tracing functionality, improved debuggability and monitoring capabilities to supply insights and help platform builders in growing inside Remoted VMs; 

    • Hypervisor Vendor Modules 

With vendor module extensions, our companions can customise Google’s hypervisor (pKVM) to fulfill their particular want and differentiate themselves; 

    • System Well being Enhancements 

With Android 14, a microdroid based mostly VM boots 2 occasions sooner in comparison with Android 13 whereas utilizing half the reminiscence.

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