Confirming the advances and rumors circulated in the past few days Huawei has taken advantage of the Huawei Developer Conference by Dongguang to launch HarmonyOS , a new open source operating system based on microkernel that has the purpose – according to the words company – to offer a consistent user experience between different devices and scenarios.
Let's start with a premise: a microkernel provides the definition of simple and basic servers above the hardware level, which have the purpose of implementing minimal operating system services. The purpose of a microkernel is to separate the implementation of the basic services from the operating structures of the system, unlike what happens with a monolithic kernel (as in UNIX and Linux for example) where all functions are implemented within the kernel. Among the currently most well-known microkernel-based operating systems it is worth mentioning BeOS and its successor Haiku, Mach and QNX of BlackBerry.
“We are entering an era where people expect a holistic experience on all devices and scenarios. To support this, we believe it is important to have an operating system with improved cross-platform functionality. We need a operating system that supports all scenarios, which can be used on a wide range of devices and platforms and which can meet consumer demand for low latency and robust security “, said Richard Yu , CEO of the Consumer Business Group of the Chinese giant, continuing: “These are our goals with HarmonyOS. HarmonyOS is completely different from Android and iOS. It is a distributed operating system based on microkernel, which offers a fluid experience on all scenarios. It has a secure and reliable architecture and supports the interaction between various devices.You can develop apps only once and distribute them flexibly on a wide range of devices you”.
Huawei says that the idea behind HarmonyOS was born about ten years ago, when the company imagined a future where what it called “intelligence” would be integrated into all aspects of everyday life. Since then he has begun to think about how to achieve this vision, which goes beyond physical boundaries and spans different hardware platforms.
The four pillars of HarmonyOS: homogeneous, fluid, safe, unified
HarmonyOS is a light and compact operating system with thick functionalities, and – as was already hypothesized in the recent past – will be used first on devices such as smartwatches, smart-screens, in-vehicle systems and smart speakers. Huawei's goal is to establish a shared and integrated ecosystem on various devices, create a safe and reliable environment and offer a homogeneous and all-round experience for every type of interaction on the various devices. The Chinese giant highlights four key features of Harmony OS that we slavishly report:
HarmonyOS is a distributed operating system that allows developers to focus only on developing the logic of their applications, without having to focus on the technical and implementation aspects of the application distribution on multiple devices. This means that app development is simpler and more efficient, while allowing the possibility of operating on different platforms but with a seamless user experience.
Two elements to ensure a high level of performance: Deterministic Latency Engine and Inter Process Communication. The first establishes task execution priorities and their time limits for advance planning. The available resources are oriented to the most priority tasks, reducing the latency of the apps 25, 7%. The microkernel can make IPC performance five times more efficient than existing systems
One of the features of the HarmonyOS microkernel is the use of formal verification methods in a Trusted Execution Environment. Formal verification methods are an effective mathematical approach to validate the correctness of the system from the base, while traditional verification methods, such as functional verification and attack simulation, are limited to limited scenarios. Formal methods, on the other hand, use data models to verify all the operative paths of the software. Harmony OS is the first operating system that uses formal verification in the TEE of the device, significantly improving security. In addition, since the HarmonyOS microkernel uses much less code (about a thousandth compared to the Linux kernel), the chances of attack are significantly reduced.
Thanks to a multi-device IDE and unified multi-language compilation, HarmonyOS can adapt to different layouts and interactions of on-screen controls offering the possibility for developers to more efficiently build apps that operate on different devices. With a multi-device IDE, developers can build their apps once and distribute them on various devices, creating a tightly integrated ecosystem on all user's devices. The HUAWEI ARK compiler allows developers to compile a wide range of advanced machine code languages in a single unified environment. By supporting unified compilation in various languages, HUAWEI ARK will help developers improve their productivity.
The timing: version 1.0 by the end of the year
During today's conference Huawei also announced the roadmap for HarmonyOS and its microkernel. The version 1.0 will first be adopted in smart screen products , whose launch is expected later in the year. Over the next three years, Harmony OS will be optimized and adopted on a wide range of smart devices, including wearable devices, the Huawei Vision smartphone and solutions for the automotive world.
The success of HarmonyOS will depend on how dynamic the app ecosystem and the developer community will manage to be. In order to encourage the widest possible adoption, the Chinese giant will release Harmony OS as an open-source platform. Huawei will also establish an open-source foundation and a community to further support collaboration with developers.
Huawei will lay the foundation of Harmony OS first in the Chinese market , for a subsequent expansion towards global markets. With a focus on providing new and unique value, Huawei will open key features such as connectivity, camera and AI technologies, working closely with partners to create apps and services that offer consumers the best experience possible and with ambition to bring new life to the sector.
“We believe that HarmonyOS will revitalize the sector and enrich the ecosystem. Our goal is to bring people a truly engaging and different experience. We want to invite developers around the world to join us in building this new ecosystem. Together we will offer an advanced experience for all consumers in all scenarios, “concluded Yu.