Tag Archive | "hypervisor"

MMV launches Console OS, a Dual OS Android project for your Windows PC

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consolebot-head-alphachannelBack at MWC we spoke to MMV CEO Christopher Price about dual-OS tablets, Ultrabooks and desktops. At that time they were public about iConsole.TV – an Android build designed to run games on high-power PC platforms. The idea of high-end gaming power is interesting but the more interesting topic for us was the promise that they were “building the first Android desktop PC.” [Watch the video here.] MMV have officially launched that project and it’s called Console OS. It’s going to be a true instant-switch dual-OS options for Windows PC owners.

Console OS is a part-completed dual-boot Android build that has the aim of being a complete desktop-capable fork of Android for X86 . The project has launched on Kickstarter where you can support and influence the project. If the project is successful we could see a true hypervisor-controlled instant-switch Android build in 2015.

The Kickstarter project is mainly geared towards building Console OS Pro – a version with hypervisor-based switching, service layers, maps and stores. This version will also, eventually, include OpenGL4.0 support and a Windowing system. Console OS will also be available to everyone soon as a basic dual-boot version.

Neither version will ship with the Android application store or Google service integration but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It’s up to MMV, OEMS and Google to solve that issue and there’s obviously going to be money directed towards teasing OEMs into the project. Unofficial Google solutions are likely to appear but the hope is that Google would eventually come to their senses and support this commercially led project. The Amazon store is has already been tested and MMV will also build a Console Store that will include enhanced apps. MMV are also promising to allow you to import applications from your existing Android devices.

Other Cosnole OS Pro features:

  • Toggle between native and modified user-interface.
  • Ten-Second toggle between Windows and Android.
  • The Hypervisor looks like it will be based on Xen and include XenGT graphics virtualization technology.
  • 2 apps can be run side by side (on both versions)
  • ‘Industry licensed’
  • Secure-Boot supported
  • Gaming OpenGL 4 will be supported in 2015
  • ASUS Transformer Book T100 will be one of the first products to get a tailored build
  • Kickstarter supporters will be able to vote on which devices get priority in the tailoring process.

I’ve taken a close look at the project and spoke to MMV and I think it’s one of the best dual OS projects yet. Where Bluestacks, the AMD-funded project, runs inside a Windows-based runtime and others from Insyde and AMI haven’t really got off the ground this is not only a good technical solution but a well-organised project. Choosing to go through Kickstarter means it gets a good amount of free marketing too.

So why would you want Console OS? The free, dual-boot version may not interest too many people outside the early-adopter class but I think many will be interested in testing games on devices like the T100 and even some more powerful Ultrabooks. The Pro project is going to be the more interesting one for the mainstream though. There are going to be device-specific issues that will limit the audience at first but by choosing popular devices first – and the Transformer Book T100 is a perfect example – they should improve their reach quickly. Ultimately the OEMs need to pick up Console OS to make it truly successful and that success really does ride on being able to get a full Store and quality service layers into the product. Google is obviously the first choices but let’s not forget that Microsoft have a full Android stack in the Nokia X project.

MMV have published a list of competing Android X86 options and features.

COS-competitive-061214-002

 

Here’s the list of devices that will get tailoring treatment from day 1 although it must be noted that there could be issues and changes. Sensors, 3G, multitouch, digitizers and other hardware will need open-source drivers before they are supported.

  • ASUS: Transformer Book T100
  • Dell: XPS 11, XPS 12, XPS 13, and XPS 15, Venue 8 Pro, Venue 11 Pro
  • Intel: Next Unit of Computing (all NUC models except for 847DYE)
  • Lenovo: Miix 2 8-inch, Miix 2 10-inch, IdeaPad U430p, ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Yoga 2, Yoga Pro 2
  • Sager: NP2740
  • Sony: VAIO Tap 11, VAIO Pro 11 & 13
  • System76: Galago UltraPro
  • Toshiba: Protege R30 & Z30, Tecra A50, Z50 & Z40
  • And, of course, all of our own iConsole-branded hardware like iConsole Unit 00 (and more, new hardware coming later this month)

Support for additional systems will be steered by OEM backing and by the community.

Console OS release timescales

Console OS Developer Release 1 within about 30 days of the Kickstarter’s conclusion (Est. September) After the initial launch the Kickstarter funds will be used to build out support for the devices that are  voted for.

MMV expects Console OS (Pro) 1.0 around December, 2014 with the goal of giving OEMs something to ship in time for new x86 tablets and convertibles this winter to ship in stores.

We’re in touch with MMV and looking forward to early testing. Expect more coverage from us soon.

Dual-OS Update: Intel, Nokia, American Megatrends and Why Google Might Not be Needed.

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TD300_Detached_Dual-OS (2)There’s another BIOS producer getting into the Operating System Vendor space. Why? Because there’s a potential market for Windows 8 devices to offer Android as a live-switch alternative and the BIOS producers are well positioned to enable this. What are the options and issues, drivers and players and is Google at risk of being left out of this potentially big shift to high-power Android in the consumer space.


At MWC last week I spoke to a number of people about Dual-OS systems and there appears to be quite a positive note on it due to slow progress being made by Windows stores. It seems developers are unimpressed by the numbers available for the Microsoft Stores but excited about the prospect of Windows 8 Store unification. They won’t put any major effort into Windows apps in the meantime though and that could leave an 18-month gap. What do Windows laptop and tablets manufacturers do in the meantime? The idea is to go beyond the Smartbook (cheap Android-only) laptop concept and offer dual-OS on high-power platforms which could work not only to solve the application problem but could offer some very high power FullHD Android gaming experiences. The latter idea is one worth thinking about as gaming developers huddle around Android on tablets and smartphones that are already getting FullHD displays.  Think about the developments in 2-in-1 hardware (fanless Core-based systems should be common later this year) and it fits nicely as a potential solution for the laptop manufacturers. If it gains traction in the next 18 months then how about another stab at the Android-powered laptop? Consumers could be better served with a laptop-focused Android build now that the architecture has a) advanced greatly since the last attempt at smartbooks. b) hardware for always-on high-power and high-quality 2-in-1 solutions is now available. c) Consumers love Android d) Gaming on Android is BIG.

 

Background: 6 Dual-OS Architectures.

There are many ways to achieve a Dual-OS solution. Here are 6 potential solutions.

  • Classic dual-boot. Requires reboot to change systems generally not consumer-friendly.
  • S3 sleep+Memory juggling for 4-second (or less, according to my contacts) switch-over.  One engineer I spoke to told me they can do it without partitioning memory and in sub 4-seconds using SSD and some tricks.
  • Dalvik Runtime solution (running concurrently on top of Windows) e.g. Bluestacks, Myriad Alien (Myriad is the solution used in the Sailfish OS on the Jolla Linux smartphone.)
  • A ‘virtual box’ software hypervisor on an existing OS. E.g. Linux and Virtualbox with Android and Windows on top of that. Somewhat inefficient and, given the amount of lines of OS code required, probably not the most secure solution..
  • A fully virtualized dual-OS system running concurrently on a Hypervisor which has direct access to CPU features such as VT-x. (E.g. DuOS from AMI. See below.)
  • Dual-CPU system (a-la Transformer Book Trio.) Expensive but possibly the neatest solution. (Imagine a Core CPU with Atom or ARM CPU on one system.)

 

Intel, ASUS, Samsung Dual-OS solutions and the Google Problem

At CES we heard Intel announce their Dual-OS platform. They’re working on it but there’s next to no information available. My research indicates that they’re looking at a platform that switches from one to the other in sub 4-seconds but one that also puts the alternative OS into sleep. There might be a few partner issues on the horizon though.

ASUS have their ‘proprietary’ system too. I can confirm this is not the same project as Intel’s and my sources tell me that Google weren’t happy about it, just as they weren’t happy with the Samsung ATIV Q which appears to have been denied access to Google Play and taken back to the developers for a re-think.

Is Google Play critical though?

Think about this; If Google won’t allow their services to be used on top of Android Open Source then how about Nokia services, Microsoft Services or Amazon services? Take a look at the Nokia X project to see how many Nokia and Microsoft services have been integrated into Android open-source. Think about the success of the Amazon Kindle, the apps that have been ported over and the Amazon services that have been integrated into that product. 3 years ago we didn’t have these alternative service layers but now we do and Google doesn’t have the monopoly any more. If (and that’s a big ‘if’) Dual-OS leads to Android consumer laptops and gaming rigs it’s this high-powered i86 architecture that has the lead and if Google doesn’t want to cross this bridge, Nokia (and by definition through the take-over and Nokia-X project) Microsoft and Amazon have a good opportunity.

 

DuOS Available for Download Soon

Back to American Megatrends: There’s an interview video with President & CEO of AMI, Subramonian Shankar available below (via IT-Techblog.) In the video you’ll hear about the hypervisor architecture and a public download of the system. Through some digging I’ve found a site called AMIDUOS which looks like the place you’re going to find the software soon. It was tipped by an engineer working at American Megatrends so it looks likely! I also have a request in for early access.

The hypervisor solution is not without its issues. How do you turn off an alarm on the ‘other’ running OS? How do you control notifications, access to USB hardware, GPS and other hardware? Can you leave Android running and audio stream while switching to Windows to do some video and audio editing?

Dual-OS is a huge topic. it’s a bridge to Android-only laptop and gaming solutions. It’s a potential win for i86 and, in a bizarre twist, it’s a solution that Microsoft now has in its pocket. It’s not without issues though and if early solutions are messy it will die just as the smartbook did. Given the potentially huge gaming laptop/console feature though, the better platforms, a move to 2-in-1 hardware and the marketing budget that major OSVs have it could get the traction it requires. Are we seeing the first steps towards a shift in laptop OS for consumers and a potentially new path for the Wintel alliance?

Ramos i10 Pro Could Run Dual-OS on Baytrail

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If Intel and friends can pull-off the dual-OS trick in a slick way they’ll have a valuable selling point and a ‘bridge’ between the app-gap in Windows and the consumer richness of Android. Ramos already have a set of Intel-powered Android tablets in China but the Ramos i10 Pro is said to be coming with a dual-OS option on a Baytrail core.

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