Huawei logo as seen at MWC 2019 Huawei has, as anticipated, finally unveiled Harmony, a distributed operating system intended as an alternative to both Microsoft Windows and Google Android. “People expect a holistic intelligent experience across all devices and scenarios. To support this, we felt it was important to have an operating system with improved
Huawei logo as seen at MWC 2019
Huawei has, as anticipated, finally unveiled Harmony, a distributed operating system intended as an alternative to both Microsoft Windows and Google Android.
“People expect a holistic intelligent experience across all devices and scenarios. To support this, we felt it was important to have an operating system with improved cross-platform capabilities. We needed an operating system… that can be used across a broad range of devices and platforms, and that can meet consumer demand for low latency and strong security,” claimed Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu.
He continued: “HarmonyOS is completely different from Android and iOS. It is a microkernel-based, distributed operating system that delivers a smooth experience across all scenarios. It has trustworthy and secure architecture, and it supports seamless collaboration across devices. You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices.”
The company claims that the operating system, which had been code-named Hongmeng during its long development, is lightweight, compact and powerful. In addition to running on the kinds of devices that would otherwise run Windows or Android – ie: PCs and smartphones – the company suggested that it would also be used for smart watches, smart screens, in-vehicle systems and in smart speakers.
In particular, Huawei has claimed four significant technical features:
1. A distributed architecture: “By adopting distributed architecture and distributed virtual bus technology, HarmonyOS offers a shared communications platform, distributed data management, distributed task scheduling, and virtual peripherals,” the company claimed. “With HarmonyOS, app developers won’t have to deal with the underlying technology for distributed apps, allowing them to focus on their own individual service logic.”
2. A deterministic latency engine and ‘inter-process communication’ (IPC). “The Deterministic Latency Engine sets task execution priorities and time limits for scheduling in advance. Resources will gravitate toward tasks with higher priorities, reducing the response latency of apps by 25.7 per cent. The microkernel can make IPC performance up to five times more efficient than existing systems.”
3. A security model based on a microkernel architecture built from the ground up. “The microkernel itself provides only the most basic services like thread scheduling and IPC. Harmony OS’s microkernel design uses formal verification methods to reshape security and trustworthiness from the ground up in a Trusted Execution Environment.
“Formal verification methods are an effective mathematical approach to validate system correctness from the source, while traditional verification methods, such as functional verification and attack simulation, are confined to limited scenarios. Formal methods, by contrast, can use data models to verify all software running paths.
“HarmonyOS is the first OS to use formal verification in device Trusted Execution Environment, significantly improving security. In addition, because the HarmonyOS microkernel has much less code (roughly one-thousandth the amount of the Linux kernel), the probability of attack is greatly reduced.”
4. A write-once, run anywhere (and on anything) integrated development environment means that “HarmonyOS can automatically adapt to different screen layout controls and interactions, and support both drag-and-drop control and preview-oriented visual programming. This allows developers to more efficiently build apps that run on multiple devices”, claimed Huawei.
The compiler, meanwhile, called Ark, “is the first static compiler that can perform on par with Android’s virtual machine, enabling developers to compile a broad range of advanced languages into machine code in a single, unified environment. By supporting unified compilation in multiple languages… [Ark] will help developers greatly improve their productivity”.
The first Harmony powered device will be the Huawei SmartScreen (and probably its cut-price Honor equivalent) due out later this year.