Virtualization On Handsets

An interesting article on The Register with regards to mobile handsets and virtualization. Some of the concepts in the article are still forward looking, especially the CloneCloud, however, they provide a taste of the things to come. I have family visiting from Europe, unlimited bandwidth plans are already common place there and with some applications on their high-end phones it is already difficult to tell whether data is local or remote.

The article provides another proof point that virtualization on cell phones is real, the technology is ready for embedded devices.

The article also talks about having one multiple instances of an operating system on a single phone. This is exactly what virtualization enables on embedded hardware. It allows the systems architect to come up with an operating system layer that is decoupled from the hardware.

The article gives one example, another example that I like much better is to have a real-time operating system deal with the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and a general purpose OS (Linux for example) deal with the user-interaction. This combination provides you with fast response times to meet deadlines where needed, but allows you to use Linux for the front-end. Maybe not an application that is needed in cell phones, but I have had many discussions with customers building automotive, consumer electronics, medical and industrial applications that are quite impressed with the capabilities that virtualization provides.