Boost you Android Emulator

Boost you Android Emulator

If you have ever done Android Development, then you know that what a pain in the a** that android emulator is. It is too slow and not very responsive and that would make you development a pain. But there is a way you can boost up your emulators performance. This is because the Android Virtual Device (AVD) by default is ARM based. Therefore it is very slow to boot up and to operate also. But there is an alternative. Instead of ARM based AVD you can create Intel based AVD.

To create an Intel based AVD you need to install Intel x86 Atom System Image. By default this is not installed. So first step is to install the Intel x86 Atom System Image. You need to open up Android SDK Manager to do this.

Selecting Intel x86 Atom system Image from SDK Manager Selecting Intel x86 Atom system Image from SDK Manager

You can see what the components that are installed are and you have to find the checkbox where it states “Intel x86 Atom System Image” under the API versions you want to install it for. Then tick the checkboxes and click install packages you are done. NO :D You need something else.. Scroll down the list and in the Extras category in the SDK Manager you will see a checkbox Intel x86 Emulator Accelerator (HAXM).

Selecting Intel x86 Emulator Accelerator (HAXM) from SDK Manager

It’s a hardware assisted virtualization engine that uses Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) to boot the Android app emulator. Note that, if you are using Windows 8 or earlier versions of Windows and Mac OS X Mountain Lion or previous you can go ahead and tick that checkbox and install the HAXM software. But if you are using Windows 8.1 or Mac OS X Mavericks you need to download the installation files from Intel site and install. The link to the page is here.

Download links for HAXM from Intel

If you have the latest Android Development tools installed (v22.6) it should not be a problem to install HAXM through the SDK Manager. But I recommend you get it form the Intel site just to be sure so you can have the latest one available.

All set. Install the Intel x86 Atom System Image and HAXM from the SDK Manager or HAXM separately from Intel and you are good to go.

Note: if you downloaded HAXM through SDK Manager you need to go to where your ADT bundle is located and in there go to sdk -> extras -> intel and you will see a folder with the name Hardware_Accelerated_Execution_Manager.

Install Intel HAXM - Start Screen.

Inside you will find the executable to install HAXM. Otherwise it is located where you downloaded to in your HDD

Install HAXM - Settings Screen

When installing accept the default values and install HAXM. Then you are ready to create a new AVD. :D

Run eclipse and from the menu bar go to Window -> Android Virtual Device Manager. From the dialog you can wither click “New” from the Android Virtual Devices tab to create an AVD from scratch or you can go to Device Definitions tab and select an existing device definition and Click “Create AVD” to quickly create one. Of course you knew that right :D

Create AVD from Excising Definitions

From the new dialog box “Create New Android Virtual Device” Give a name if you want, then select the target Android OS from the dropdown and next the important part. From the CPU/ABI section select “Intel Atom (x86) instead of ARM and then select the “Use Host GPU” checkbox to use the graphics card of your machine for AVDs animations. Which will make them very smooth.. Like Butter :D Remember Project Butter ;) then set all other settings as you like and click OK to create the AVD.

Create New AVD

Then your new AVD is ready and select it from the list and start it. When the AVD is starting you should see something like this “Starting emulator for AVD ‘XXXXXX’ emulator: XXXXXXXX  HAX is working and emulator runs in fast virt mode…” and you should notice that the new AVD boots u much much faster and the animations and the operation is very smooth.. Well that’s what I call smooth like butter: D


There you go folks, you have just given your AVD an adrenalin shot. Hope its helpful and keep up the good work.

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