I currently use Ubuntu 10.10, and I find the emulator extremely slow. However, I have an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (T5200 processor) with 4G of RAM. What do I need to improve performance? Better hardware? A minimal Linux distribution?

  • Developer questions are off-topic, so I removed that aspect from the question since the emulator can be run by users too. Aug 26 '11 at 22:45

Past versions of the emulator were extremely slow on all platforms. However, there are now native x86 versions of the emulator; performance should be considerably improved. You should be able to get them through the Android SDK (or through Intel's website, see this Stack Overflow post).

However, I would recommend (for end users) Memu instead; it's very fast and reliable. Genymotion is the best alternative if you aren't on Windows.

  • Thank you. I was thinking that I would need even more power for just an emulator. A dual-core with 4G is usually a good system, even by today's standards.
    – jfmessier
    Aug 26 '11 at 23:49
  • 3
    @jfmessier: I recall reading at one point that the emulator is actually confined to just one core, and that people tend to get better performance with a very high frequency single-core processor. That's probably where you're hurting the most - T5200 is fairly low on the Core 2 Duo frequency scale. Aug 27 '11 at 0:12
  • That makes much sense to me. And I realize that my cores are not the fastest ones. That would also mean that I should try to have a clean, small and fast installation of Linux that will leave more resources to Android emulator.
    – jfmessier
    Aug 27 '11 at 16:59
  • I have a quad-core machine, but it is a i7 intel chip, which does some extra clocking (turbo) when it sees that only one core is used. It does this in 133 MHz (some versions in 100 MHz) steps. I see some speed up for Honeycomb in the startup, but later the emulator is still not usable. Sep 17 '11 at 19:08
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    There are now native x86 images that run faster
    – ce4
    Sep 18 '12 at 6:05

As an update to Matthews answer: I'm running Android-x86 in a VirtualBox VM, performance and load are pretty much acceptable. Android-x86 images are available for download on the project site, and install in VM works like with any Linux distro (basically).

for detailed instructions, there are several tutorials around; simply google for android-x86 virtualbox, good matches appear already on the first page, e.g.

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