Huawei officially reveals Harmony OS, its first party operating system
Harmony OS is microkernel-based, like Google’s in-development Fuchsia OS. Huawei says that Fuchsia uses a “non-distributed design,” unlike the new Harmony OS. Huawei says that this allows for flexible deployment of the new OS on various devices, easing app development in all scenarios. To justify both of these claims, Huawei brings up that it is “hard to deliver a smooth experience across different devices with huge amount of code in Android and Linux core.” That’s because “multi-device interconnection requirements for security” and the “close-coupling between app ecosystem and hardware compromises user experience and development efficiency.”
The use of a microkernel also improves security. Microkernel only “provides the most basic services like thread scheduling and IPC,” while most system services are implemented in user space. With less code to audit, the probability that a new attack will be discovered will be low. Huawei also says it is using “formal verification methods” to secure the TEE kernel. Huawei says this technique, which uses a “mathematical approach to validate system correctness from the source,” is mainly applied to security-critical fields like aerospace and chipsets, “significantly contributing to system reliability and robustness.” The microkernel can furthermore be “scaled on demand for wider system security.” In closing, Huawei boasts that products can achieve an EAL 5+ certification level running the new OS.
Unlike Android which uses the Linux kernel’s scheduling mechanism, Harmony OS uses a “deterministic latency engine” that provides “precise resource scheduling with real-time load analysis and forecasting and app characteristics matching.” The result is a 25.7% and 55.6% improvement in response latency and latency fluctuation respectively. In addition, Huawei says the microkernel can make “IPC [Inter Process Communication] performance up to five times more efficient than existing systems.”