• The Android Common Kernel is about to remove support for the RISC-V architecture.
  • Android Common Kernel is Google’s fork of the upstream Linux kernel but with Android-specific additions.
  • RISC-V is an open-source architecture that is gaining increased popularity in the hardware space, and Google has been steadily working on implementing support for it in Android.

Back in early 2023, Google announced that it was working on enabling support for the RISC-V architecture in Android. RISC-V is an open instruction set architecture that’s grown in popularity in recent years since hardware makers don’t need to pay a licensing fee to build RISC-V chips. Some Android devices already ship with chipsets based on RISC-V, though these chipsets typically run something other than Android and act as a co-processor to the device’s main, typically Arm-based processor.

Late last year, chip maker Qualcomm announced that it was designing a wearable chipset based on RISC-V and that this chipset would run on Google’s Android-based Wear OS platform. Once released, these Wear OS smartwatches would be the first commercial RISC-V hardware to run a Google-certified Android build. To make that happen, though, Google must devote a lot of engineering resources to make Android — and its underlying Linux kernel fork — boot on RISC-V hardware. Google has already done much  of the work to enable RISC-V support in Android, though there’s quite a bit of work still ahead.