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Mobile OS Rethought

November 21, 2014

This post might be of interest to those in Internet of Things, Virtualization and Mobile OSes simply because it tries to combine all three. As usual, I have zero technical insight into these areas. I am just a mobile user asking for a better deal. Also, as usual, I want to talk about breaking down some or the other monolithic architecture into interchangeable components.

What I am proposing here is simply this: Get rid of SoC. Google’s Ara phone is a step in the right direction but still too Google dependent. And Hardware oriented. We need to get rid of Hardware Integration for sure but also Software Integration.

The whole point of this post is that if a developer wants to make a tiny little app for a old operating system, people should not get to laugh at the OS, they can of course laugh at the app itself.

Yes I am talking about are individual App Plus OS Virtual Machines (APOSVMs) running on component level Hypervisors. So there is one Hypervisor for the camera. Another one for the GPS and so on.

But best of all, because there is no traditional OS, just a bunch of APOSVMs, backup processes are not just fast and flexible but also allow for huge offshoring potential. Offshoring is where the APOSVM uses an external resource even if it is just storage but can also be processing and sensors etc.

How many of us have tried to mess with an Android device and have it promptly get all bricked up. It is simply the result of the tight integration not just within the hardware but also between the hardware and software.

Similarly how many of us have got locked into an old OS because it takes a huge effort to achieve the said integration so much so that it is only worthwhile for popular and high end mobiles.

With APOSVMs, these things would not be a worry because the OS is no longer monolithic. Not just that, think about the evolution of the OS itself We would soon see thousands of custom Mini OSes dedicated to handling only a subset of tasks.

But most importantly we might get to see truly distributed computing because APOSVMs allow offshoring.

APOSVMs are of course the goal, but let’s start off small. Let’s start with an Android phone which allows use of camera or GPS without booting up, yikes. Essentially we have a separate chip for the Camera, another one for the GPS, both these have their own WiFi, Bluetooth and maybe even cellular capability.

Naturally with the Internet of Things being deployed we may see newer protocols for short and long distance communications. Also these have their own RAM and storage (both flash and faster cache). This also means that if we are aren’t using either, these are in a power off state.

Of course that does not mean that we can’t take that sudden photo. That’s because we were assuming no APOSVMs. With APOSVMs, the Camera would be powered on and have a Hypervisor running and the Camera App APOSVM would have an instance on the Camera Hypervisor and another on the Mother System for offshoring. Of course the offshoring would be opportunistic and take place only when the Mother System is handling fewer tasks of lesser importance. For instance to convert RAWs to JPEGs.

This also brings up the topic of Mother System, which is essentially a general purpose offshoring platform that offers Cloud Components too. And of course there is no restriction on the number of Mother Systems on a phone. So for instance there can be a low powered Mother System akin to the Motion Coprocessor seen in modern Mobile Chip Architectures. Similarly there can be a scalable Mother System to achieve the sweet spot between performance and efficiency. And so on.

Cloud Components for Mother Systems refer to remote storage, processing or sensor capabilities. Even the Home NAS could be fair game here.

So there you have it: an APOSVMs based OS that runs of Independent Hardware Components each of which use Hypervisors that manage APOSVMs along with their offshoring to Mother Systems and Cloud Resources. In a way, this is what the Project Ara should really be gunning for.

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