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Configure hardware acceleration for the Android Emulator

The Android Emulator can use hardware acceleration features to improve performance, sometimes drastically. This page describes how you can configure graphics and virtual machine (VM) acceleration to get higher performance from the emulator.

Configure graphics acceleration

Graphics acceleration uses your computer's hardware (typically the GPU) to make screen rendering faster. Android devices use OpenGL for Embedded Systems (OpenGL ES or GLES) for rendering both 2D and 3D graphics on the screen.

When you create an Android Virtual Device (AVD) in the AVD Manager, you can specify whether the emulator should use hardware or software to emulate the GPU of the AVD. Hardware acceleration is recommended and is typically faster. However, you might need to use software acceleration if your computer uses graphics drivers that aren't compatible with the emulator.

By default, the emulator decides whether to use hardware or software graphics acceleration based on your computer setup. If your GPU hardware and drivers are compatible, the emulator uses the GPU. Otherwise, the emulator uses software acceleration (using your computer's CPU) to simulate GPU processing.

If you start the emulator from the command line, you can also override the graphics acceleration setting in the AVD for that virtual device instance.

Requirements

To use graphics acceleration, your development environment must meet the following requirements:

  • SDK Tools: Latest release recommended (version 17 minimum)
  • SDK Platform: Latest release recommended (Android 4.0.3, Revision 3, minimum)

Configure graphics acceleration in the AVD Manager

To configure graphics acceleration for an AVD, follow these steps:

  1. Open the AVD Manager.
  2. Create a new AVD or edit an existing AVD.
  3. On the Verify Configuration page, find the Emulated Performance section.
  4. Select a value for the Graphics: option.
  5. Click Finish.

Configure graphics acceleration from the command line

To specify a graphics acceleration type when you run an AVD from the command line, include the -gpu option, as shown in the following example:

emulator -avd avd_name -gpu mode [{-option [value]} ... ]

The value of mode can be set to one of the following options:

  • auto: Let the emulator choose between hardware or software graphics acceleration based on your computer setup.
  • host: Use the GPU on your computer for hardware acceleration. This option typically provides the highest graphics quality and performance for the emulator. However, if your graphics drivers have issues rendering OpenGL, you might need to use the swiftshader_indirect or angle_indirect options.
  • swiftshader_indirect: Use a Quick Boot-compatible variant of SwiftShader to render graphics using software acceleration. This option is a good alternative to host mode if your computer can't use hardware acceleration.
  • angle_indirect: (Windows only) Use a Quick Boot-compatible variant of ANGLE Direct3D to render graphics using software acceleration. This option is a good alternative to host mode if your computer can't use hardware acceleration. In most cases, ANGLE performance should be similar to using host mode because ANGLE uses Microsoft DirectX instead of OpenGL. On Windows, Microsoft DirectX drivers typically have fewer issues than OpenGL drivers. This option uses Direct3D 11 and requires Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7 SP1 with the Windows 7 Platform Update.
  • guest: Use guest-side software rendering. This option provides the lowest graphics quality and performance for the emulator.

The following mode options are deprecated:

  • swiftshader: Deprecated in version 27.0.2 Use swiftshader_indirect instead.
  • angle: Deprecated in version 27.0.2. Use angle_indirect instead (Windows only).
  • mesa: Deprecated in version 25.3. Use swiftshader_indirect instead.

Enable Skia rendering for Android UI

When using images for API level 27 or higher, the emulator can render the Android UI with Skia. Skia helps the emulator render graphics more smoothly and efficiently.

To enable Skia rendering, use the following commands in adb shell:

su
setprop debug.hwui.renderer skiagl
stop
start

Configuring VM acceleration

VM acceleration uses your computer's processor to significantly improve the execution speed of the emulator. A tool called a hypervisor manages this interaction using virtualization extensions that your computer's processor provides. This section outlines the requirements for using VM acceleration and describes how to set up VM acceleration on each operating system.

General requirements

To use VM acceleration with the emulator, your computer must meet the general requirements in this section. Your computer also needs to meet other requirements that are specific to your operating system.

Development environment requirements

To use VM acceleration, your development environment must meet the following requirements:

  • SDK Tools: minimum version 17; recommended version 26.1.1 or later
  • AVD with an x86-based system image, available for Android 2.3.3 (API level 10) and higher

Virtualization extension requirements

In addition to the development environment requirements, your computer's processor must support one of the following virtualization extensions technologies:

  • Intel Virtualization Technology (VT, VT-x, vmx) extensions
  • AMD Virtualization (AMD-V, SVM) extensions

Most modern processors support these virtualization extensions. If you're not sure whether your processor supports these extensions, check the specifications for your processor on the manufacturer's site. If your processor doesn't support one of these extensions, then you can't use VM acceleration.

Restrictions

VM acceleration has the following restrictions:

  • You can't run a VM-accelerated emulator inside another VM, such as a VM hosted by VirtualBox, VMWare, or Docker. You must run a VM-accelerated emulator directly on your host computer.
  • Depending on your operating system and hypervisor, you can't run software that uses another virtualization technology at the same time that you run a VM-accelerated emulator. For example, VirtualBox, VMWare, and Docker currently use a different virtualization technology, so you can't run them at the same time as the accelerated emulator.

About hypervisors

VM acceleration requires a hypervisor.

Without a hypervisor and VM acceleration, the emulator must translate the machine code from the VM block by block to conform to the architecture of the host computer. This process can be quite slow. With a hypervisor, the VM and the architecture of the host computer match, so the emulator can run code directly on the host processor using the hypervisor. This improvement drastically increases both the speed and performance of the emulator.

The hypervisor that will work best for you depends on your computer's operating system and configuration. For more information, see one of the following sections:

Check if a hypervisor is installed

You can use the emulator -accel-check command-line option to check if a hypervisor is currently installed on your computer.

The following examples show how to use use the emulator accel-check option. In each example, sdk is the location of the Android SDK:

Windows:

c:\Users\janedoe\AppData\Local\Android> sdk\emulator\emulator -accel-check
accel:
0
HAXM version 7.3.2 (4) is installed and usable.
accel

macOS:

janedoe:~/Android$ ./sdk/emulator/emulator -accel-check
accel:
0
HAXM version 7.3.2 (4) is installed and usable.
accel

Linux:

janedoe-macbookpro:Android janedoe$ ./sdk/emulator/emulator -accel-check
accel:
0
KVM (version 12) is installed and usable.

Configure VM acceleration on Windows

VM acceleration on Windows can use one of two hypervisors: the Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager (HAXM) or the Windows Hypervisor Platform (WHPX).

Choose a hypervisor on Windows

Use the following criteria to determine which hypervisor you should use:

Criteria Hypervisor
You have an Intel processor and do not need to run Hyper-V at the same time as the Android Emulator. Use Intel HAXM.
You have an Intel processor and do need to run Hyper-V at the same time as the Android Emulator. Use WHPX.
You have an AMD processor. Use WHPX.

Configure VM acceleration using Intel HAXM on Windows

Before you can install and use Intel HAXM, your computer must meet the following requirements:

  • Intel processor with Virtualization Technology (VT-x), Intel EM64T (Intel 64) features, and Execute Disable (XD) Bit functionality enabled
  • 64-bit Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7 (or 32-bit version of the operating system on a 64-bit processor)
  • To use Intel HAXM on Windows 10 or 8, you must turn off Hyper-V in the Windows Control Panel. Note: Installing certain software might turn Hyper-V back on. Where possible, Android Studio tries to detect if Hyper-V is re-enabled and displays an option that lets you turn Hyper-V off again.

To install the Intel HAXM driver, follow these steps:

  1. Open the SDK Manager.
  2. Click the SDK Update Sites tab and then select Intel HAXM.
  3. Click OK.
  4. After the download finishes, run the installer. Typically, you can find the installer in the following location: sdk\extras\intel\Hardware_Accelerated_Execution_Manager\intelhaxm-android.exe
  5. Use the wizard to complete the installation.
  6. After installing Intel HAXM, confirm that the virtualization driver is operating correctly by entering the following command in a Command Prompt window:

    sc query intelhaxm
    

    You should see a status message that includes the following information:

    SERVICE_NAME: intelhaxm
           ...
           STATE              : 4  RUNNING
           ...
    

For more information, see Installation Instructions for Intel HAXM on Windows.

You can adjust the amount of memory available to the Intel HAXM kernel extension by running the installer again.

You can uninstall Intel HAXM using either the installer or the Windows Control Panel. Before you uninstall Intel HAXM, shut down any x86 emulators that are currently running.

Configure VM acceleration using Windows Hypervisor Platform

Before you can enable WHPX, your computer must meet the following requirements:

  • Intel processors: Support for Virtualization Technology (VT-x), Extended Page Tables (EPT), and Unrestricted Guest (UG) features. VT-x must be enabled in your computer's BIOS settings.
  • AMD processors: AMD Ryzen processor recommended. Virtualization or SVM must be enabled in your computer's BIOS settings.
  • Android Studio 3.2 Beta 1 or higher (download from developer.android.com)
  • Android Emulator version 27.3.8 or higher (download using the SDK Manager)
  • Windows 10 with April 2018 Update or higher

To install WHPX on Windows, follow these steps:

  1. From the Windows desktop, right-click the Windows icon and select Apps and features.
  2. Under Related settings, click Programs and Features.
  3. Click Turns Windows Features on or off.
  4. Select Windows Hypervisor Platform

  5. Click OK.

  6. Once the installation has finished, restart your computer.

Configure VM acceleration on macOS

On Mac OS X v10.10 Yosemite and higher, the Android Emulator uses the built-in Hypervisor.Framework by default, and falls back to using Intel HAXM if Hypervisor.Framework fails to initialize.

To use VM acceleration on macOS when the Hypervisor.Framework is not available, you must install the Intel HAXM kernel extension.

To install the Intel HAXM kernel extension, follow these steps:

  1. Open the SDK Manager.
  2. Click the SDK Update Sites tab and then select Intel HAXM.
  3. Click OK.
  4. After the download finishes, run the installer. Typically, you can find the installer in the following location: sdk/extras/intel/Hardware_Accelerated_ExecutionManager/IntelHAXMversion.dmg
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
  6. After installation finishes, confirm that the new kernel extension is operating correctly by opening a terminal window and running the following command:

    kextstat | grep intel
    

    You should see a status message containing the following extension name, indicating that the kernel extension is loaded:

    com.intel.kext.intelhaxm
    

For more information, see Installation Instructions for Intel HAXM.

You can adjust the amount of memory available to the Intel HAXM kernel extension by running the installer again.

You can stop using the Intel HAXM kernel extension by uninstalling it. Before you uninstall it, shut down any x86 emulators that are currently running, then run the following command in a terminal window:

sudo /System/Library/Extensions/intelhaxm.kext/Contents/Resources/uninstall.sh

Configure VM acceleration on Linux

Linux-based systems support VM acceleration through the KVM software package. Follow the instructions for installing KVM on your Linux system, and verify that KVM is enabled. For Ubuntu systems, see Ubuntu KVM Installation.

Requirements

Running KVM requires specific user permissions. Make sure that you have sufficient permissions as specified in the KVM installation instructions.

To use VM acceleration on Linux, your computer must also meet these requirements:

  • For Intel processors: Support for Virtualization Technology (VT-x), Intel EM64T (Intel 64) features, and Execute Disable (XD) Bit functionality enabled.
  • For AMD processors: Support for AMD Virtualization (AMD-V).

Check whether KVM is currently installed on Linux

You can use the emulator -accel-check command-line option to check whether you have KVM installed. Alternatively, you can install the cpu-checker package containing the kvm-ok command.

The following example shows how to use the kvm-ok command:

$ sudo apt-get install cpu-checker
$ egrep -c '(vmx|svm)' /proc/cpuinfo
12
$ kvm-ok
INFO: /dev/kvm exists
KVM acceleration can be used

Install KVM on Linux

Use the following command to install KVM:

sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm libvirt-bin ubuntu-vm-builder bridge-utils ia32-libs-multiarch