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Note that the ICS images are deprecated. Please see the instructions for running Android on gem5 and how to use workload automation.

Tips for Making Your Disk Image gem5 Friendly

Speeding Up the Boot Process

When a fresh Android image is booted it generates a lot of files and does a lot of JIT compiling; this can slow down the boot process significantly. gem5 uses a copy-on-write (COW) layer between the simulator and the actual disk image, because of this COW layer none of the changes are stored to the disk image. To make these changes permanent, and avoid having to repeat them in the future, you can remove the COW layer during the first boot of an image. This will significantly speedup future runs. To do so make the following changes to configs/common/

   class RawIdeDisk(IdeDisk):
       image = RawDiskImage(read_only=False)
       def childImage(self, ci):

Then, inside of makeArmSystem(), change from:

   self.c0 = CowIdeDisk(driveID='master')


   self.c0 = RawIdeDisk(driveID='master')

Be careful when doing this. Any changes made to the disk image will be permanent when using the raw ide disk. To ensure that all the changes are written to the disk image properly you can use the sync and halt Linux commands. These are not available on Android so it is recommended that you use something like BusyBox. Once the image has finished booting and has settled, you can run busybox sync and busybox halt -f from a gem5 terminal to write all changes to the disk and halt it properly. You will likely get a panic when the simulator exits regarding an unrecognized byte, however, this doesn't seem to cause any problems. Remember to re-enable the COW layer once you've finished setting up your disk image.


BusyBox is a useful tool providing many common Linux utilities for embedded systems. To build busybox, download the source and compile statically using the following commands:

  1. make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-linux-gnueabi- defconfig
  2. LDFLAGS="--static" make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-linux-gnueabi- -jn

Place the busybox binary into the /sbin/ directory of your Android file-system. Run busybox --help to see a full list of the available utilities.

Android Init Process

To have your benchmarks start automatically you will likely need to modify the init.rc script located in the file-system's root directory. You can see the changes made to the init.rc script for BBench by looking at the init.rc script in the images we distribute with BBench, this may be a useful template. Another useful resource for understanding the init process is located here.

m5 Utility

You will likely need the m5 utility, whose source is located in util/m5/, to do anything useful with your disk image. Build this (statically) and place it in the /sbin/ directory of your Android file-system.


If you use BBench in your work please cite our IISWC 2011 paper:

A. Gutierrez, R.G. Dreslinski, T.F. Wenisch, T. Mudge, A. Saidi, C. Emmons, and N. Paver. Full-System Analysis and Characterization of Interactive Smartphone Applications. IEEE International Symposium on Workload Characterization, pages 81-90, Austin, TX, November 2011.