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Linux boots in 2.97 seconds

Nov 7, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 11 views

Japanese embedded Linux house Lineo has announced a quick-start technology that it claims can boot Linux in 2.97 seconds on a low-powered system. The technology appears similar to but much faster than Linux's existing “suspend-to-disk” capability.

(Click for larger view of Lineo's fast-boot Linux demonstration)

Warp 2 comprises a bootloader, Linux kernel, and a “hibernation driver,” says the company. The driver takes a snapshot of RAM when hibernation is launched, saving the contents into flash memory, optionally compressing the data. On start-up, the contents are quickly returned to RAM, so that the system resumes its previous running state.

In addition, Warp 2 is touted for its ability to support multiple snapshots, presumably to allow booting to either a pristine or resumed state.

Warp 2 boasts a smaller memory size for hibernated data, compared to the original version, Lineo said. The improved snapshot compression can squeeze the image filesize to about half, depending on the contents of RAM. In one Lineo demo, for example, RAM image size was reduced from 32MB to 19MB, it said.

Warp 2 loads RAM contents into flash and vice-versa
(Click to enlarge)

The 3.17 second boot-up time was achieved on an Atmark Armadillo-500 evaluation CPU module powered by an ARM11-based Freescale i.MX31L processor clocked at 400MHz. Typical start-up time for booting the Armadillo-500 without Warp 2 is said to be 31.11 seconds.

The benchmark used NAND flash memory, saving and loading a running system state comprised of Xorg, twm, xlogo, and three xterms. Without compression, the resulting 18.3MB RAM image loaded in 2.97 seconds, according to Lineo. With compression, a 6.8MB image reportedly loaded in 3.17 seconds. A video showing the feat can be found on the company's product page, here (Japanese).

Warp 2 requires Linux, and is said to operate on the following platforms:

  • ARM — Cortex-A8 / ARM11 / ARM9
  • SuperH — Renesas SH-4 / SH-4A / SH-4AL
  • Power Architecture — Freescale PowerQUICC II Pro
  • MIPS — MIPS32R2 (available soon)

Meanwhile, two Intel engineers recently demonstrated a five-second boot of a Fedora Linux distribution on the Asus Eee PC netbook — some nine times faster than a typical Fedora boot. And, Linux's ability to boot rapidly could result in Linux outshipping Windows on notebooks next year, according to one pundit. Embedded Linux vendors such as Lineo have played a role in at least one Linux fast-boot scheme for Windows laptops, with MontaVista supplying its stack to Dell for the Latitude ON technology shipped in some recent Dell Latitude notebooks. And, near-instant boots have long been important to solar-powered remote-sensing applications, where the boot process represents the bulk of the power budget, and some boards are claimed to boot Linux in under a second.

Lineo's current products include a uLinux ELITE distribution and cross-compiling toolchain. The company also offers software reference designs and professional services to OEMs developing systems and products, and has been an active, contributing member to the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum (CELF). Its recent product announcements include Linux BSPs for the MIPS Malta dev board, MIPS64 Toshiba set-top box design, and SuperH boards from Renesas. It also recently announced plans to offer CodeSourcery G++ tools with its BSPs for ARM-based boards.


Warp 2 is available to OEMs now, says Lineo, which will hold a demonstration of the technology at Embedded Technology 2008 at Pacifico Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan, on Nov. 19-21. More information on Warp 2, including a video, may be available on this translated Lineo page.

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