A Big Little Hypervisor for IoT Development

ACRN™ is a flexible, lightweight reference hypervisor, built with real-time and safety-criticality in mind, optimized to streamline embedded development through an open source platform

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Latest Blog Posts and News

September 29, 2020 in Blog

ACRN Release Version 2.2

The ACRN 2.2 release supports new Intel Elkhart Lake and Tiger Lake processors, expands ivshmem communication, adds CPU sharing for pre-launched VMs, stages removal of deprivileged boot mode, and more.
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August 8, 2020 in Blog

ACRN Release Version 2.1

This ACRN v2.1 release adds passthrough support for MMIO devices, LAPIC timer for OVMF RTVM booting, validation for Preempt-RT Linux as a pre-launched RTVM, and documentation updates.
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July 21, 2020 in Blog

Project ACRN makes waves with Functional Safety Certification Concept Approval

ACRN has successfully received concept approval from TÜV SÜD Rail GmbH for its functional safety concept, design and management process in place. The concept approval letter claims that, “ACRN Hypervisor…
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June 24, 2020 in Blog

ACRN Release Version 2.0

ACRN v2.0 offers a new hybrid-mode architecture supporting both resource sharing and partitioning, and improved scenario definitions for industrial IoT and edge device use cases.
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May 11, 2020 in Blog

ACRN Release Version 1.6.1

This v1.6.1 update adds libvirt support for VM orchestration based on OpenStack, CPU sharing and GVT-d by default, platforms with multiple IO-APICs, and VT-d posted interrupts.
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April 1, 2020 in Blog

ACRN Release Version 1.6

We are pleased to announce the release of ACRN™ Hypervisor version 1.6, which introduces a number of new features. What's new in v1.6 Graphics pass-through supportThe hypervisor and Service VM…
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What is ACRN?

ACRN is an open source reference hypervisor, built to meets the unique needs of embedded IoT development. Today’s connected devices are increasingly expected to support a range of hardware resources, operating systems, software tools, and applications. Virtualization is vital to meet these broad needs, however, existing VM solutions don’t offer the right size and flexibility for IoT.

Datacenter hypervisor code is too big, and its boot time is too slow. It doesn’t offer safety-critical workload capabilities and requires too much overhead for embedded development. Proprietary solutions are expensive and make it difficult to deliver long-term product support. There’s a pressing need for a reference hypervisor that meets the specialized needs of embedded IoT product development. Project ACRN™ provides the answer.

Launched in March 2018 as a Linux Foundation project, ACRN has a Linux*-based Service VM and runs guest VMs simultaneously, providing a powerful software platform to build complex computing systems. A guest VM can run Linux*, an RTOS such as Zephyr*, Android*, Windows*, and more.

ACRN Architecture Highlights

ACRN is a type 1 reference hypervisor stack that runs on bare-metal hardware, with fast booting, and configurable for a variety of IoT and embedded device solutions. The ACRN hypervisor architecture partitions the system into different functional domains, with carefully selected user VM sharing optimizations for IoT and embedded devices. See our project documentation for more details about the ACRN Architecture and use cases.

ACRN defines a hypervisor reference stack and an architecture for running multiple software subsystems. Multiple OSs and VMs are managed securely, on a consolidated system by means of efficient virtualization with resource partitioning that ensures co-existing safety and non-safety critical domains on one SOC.  It also defines a reference framework implementation for virtual device emulation, called the “ACRN Device Model”, with rich I/O mediators that satisfy low-latency access needs.

Project ACRN encourages and invites the embedded developer community to participate, contribute code, and further our effort to provide a high-quality open source embedded reference hypervisor.  Join us!

Join Our Weekly Technical Community Meeting

We invite you to attend our weekly “Technical Community” meeting where you’ll meet community members
and talk about the ACRN project and plans. Join us on the community calls:

Meets every Wednesday: 4PM-5PM (China-Shanghai GMT+8)

iCal DownloadJoin Zoom MeetingSee Presentation Archive


Small Footprint

Optimized for resource-constrained devices, with a small codebase: less than 40K lines of code vs. more than 150K for datacenter-centric hypervisors.

Real Time Requirements

Delivers low latency, fast boot times, and responsive hardware communication

Embedded IoT Virtualization

Includes CPU, I/O, and networking virtualization along with a rich set of I/O mediators to share graphics and audio device functions across VMs


Applicable for use cases needing multi-OS support for guest VM OSs such as Linux*, Android*, and Zephyr*

Fully Open Source

Yields scalable support with significant R&D cost savings, code transparency, permissive licensing, and collaborative SW development with industry leaders

Safety Criticality

Built with safety-critical workload needs in mind, including prioritization and isolation

Supporting Organizations

Success Case Stories

Instrument Cluster

In September of 2019 a Chinese automobile manufacturer launched its SUV model based on the ACRN hypervisor and featured a newly-designed electronic Instrument Cluster, a facial recognition system that automatically adjusts the interior settings customized for the driver, and an AR-enhanced real-life navigation system.

Read this whitepaper case study and see how that was made possible by adopting Intel’s Apollo Lake processor and the ACRN virtualization solution.

Project Membership Inquiries

User and Developer Resources

Project Overview

A quick glance at the objectives and goals for Project ACRN.


Access all our project documentation, getting started guides, and more.

Project Roadmap

See what’s planned for ACRN releases in 2020.

GitHub Source Repository

Browse or check out the ACRN Hypervisor Source Code repo

Community Support

Browse and subscribe to the ACRN user community mailing list and post your own support questions