Google had previously detailed their plans to support 64-bit architectures via ART with the introduction of Android L which is slated to be released this month. It looks that Google is finally pushing its plan forward ahead of Android L’s launch by providing developers with the x86-64 Android ‘L’ developer preview emulator image for compiling native 64-bit apps with the NDK.
The company had previously detailed that the platform would natively support the 64-bit ARMv8 (AArch64 state) arch as well as x86-64 and MIPS64. Oddly enough, Google only provided the 64-bit system image tailored for Intel’s x64 Atom SoC lineup instead of offering a fully fledged universal x64-86 image for current Intel 64/AMD64 processors typically found on desktop systems. The ARMv8/AArch64 or MIPS64 Android L images are also nowhere to be seen, but it shouldn’t be long before Google rolls out the bits judging from their current update pace.
Apps built in Java will automatically gain these benefits, with no changes to existing code. Apps built on other languages, built with the Android NDK r10b , can compile for 64-bit architectures to access the features listed above. 64-bit apps can be built by including x86_64 in the build target or use the catch allAPP_ABI=all64 in your Application.mk.
The emulator will nevertheless grant developers, who are specifically targeting x64 Atom SoCs, the ability to develop and test their native apps. The move from traditional x86 (32-bit) Atom chips to their x64 (x86-64) counterparts will allow developers to harness the additional banks of registers provided by the 64-bit ISA, not to mention the increased physical address space without having to rely on dirty hacks such as PAE.
Fire up your Android SDK Manager and grab the x64 Intel Atom images!