Dalvik is a discontinued process virtual machine (VM) in Google’s Android operating system that executes applications written for Android. Named after a fishing village in Iceland, it served as Google’s primary mobile operating system until Android version 4.4, which was replaced by Android Runtime (ART). It facilitated the execution of multiple virtual machines by consuming less memory, which made it particularly beneficial for devices with limited memory and processing power.


The phonetics of the keyword “Dalvik” is: /ˈdɑːlvɪk/

Key Takeaways

  1. Dalvik is a software that is specifically designed for Android to run applications. It is a crucial component of the Android operating system.
  2. Dalvik is a type of Java Virtual Machine (JVM), but it’s optimized for mobile devices. It operates on .dex (Dalvik Executable) files, a more efficient format in terms of memory and processing power than traditional .class files used by standard JVM.
  3. Dalvik has been replaced on Android by ART (Android Runtime). ART translates bytecode into native code before installing the application on the device, resulting in a significant speed improvement over the just-in-time compilation performed by Dalvik.


Dalvik is a vital technology term because it was the initial virtual machine (VM) process in Google’s Android operating system. As a VM, Dalvik was designed to run applications written in Java on Android devices.

Unlike Java VMs, which are stack machines, the Dalvik VM uses a register-based architecture designed to run efficiently on low-memory devices. Dalvik played a crucial role in the Android ecosystem by enabling applications to run in an isolated, virtual environment without impacting the host system.

It added greatly to the flexibility and security of Android devices. Although Google replaced Dalvik with Android Runtime (ART) in 2014, Dalvik’s influence was monumental in the development of Android apps and platforms.


Dalvik, an integral part of the Android operating system, is primarily used to optimize the performance of applications on devices with limited memory and CPU power, such as smartphones and tablets. Its primary purpose is to allow applications to run efficiently in a compact environment, ensuring smooth performance and user experience on Android devices.

It executes files in the Dalvik Executable (.dex) format specifically designed to optimize memory usage. It can effectively run multiple instances simultaneously, increasing the capacity for multitasking on an Android device. Dalvik achieves this through a process called Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation, where it translates the code from its raw form into a ready-to-execute format just before it is needed, reducing startup time and initial memory footprint.

Dalvik also employs a unique garbage collector system that reclaims memory from application objects that are no longer in use, leading to efficient memory utilization. Due to its crucial role in enhancing performance and memory usage, Dalvik is a fundamental component in driving the seamless operation of Android applications.


1. Android Mobile Operating System: Dalvik was an integral part of Google’s Android mobile operating system and was used to run applications on Android devices. It enabled the execution of multiple virtual machine instances on a single physical device.

2. BlueStacks App Player: A popular emulator, BlueStacks app player, has been created utilizing the Dalvik virtual machine. This technology enables desktop computers to emulate Android applications by translating the app’s bytecode into the system’s machine code.

3. Various IoT Devices: Before the introduction of ART runtime, numerous Internet of Things (IoT) devices relied on the Dalvik virtual machine for running Android applications. These included smart TVs, smartwatches, and other wearable devices.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is Dalvik?

A: Dalvik is a discontinued process virtual machine in Google’s Android operating system that executes applications written for Android.

Q: What is the purpose of Dalvik?

A: The purpose of Dalvik was to optimize an Android device’s performance and memory usage by running multiple VM instances simultaneously with less memory consumption.

Q: Who developed Dalvik?

A: Dalvik was developed by Dan Bornstein and it is named after the fishing village in Iceland where some of his ancestors came from.

Q: What file format does Dalvik execute?

A: Dalvik executes .dex (Dalvik Executable) file format which is specifically designed for the Android platform to increase performance and reduce memory footprint compared to traditional .jar (Java Archive) files.

Q: How does Dalvik differ from other Java Virtual Machines (JVMs)?

A: Unlike Java VMs, which are stack machines, the Dalvik VM uses a register-based architecture. In terms of memory usage, Dalvik’s .dex format is more compact and efficient than standard Java bytecode.

Q: When was Dalvik discontinued, and what was its replacement?

A: Dalvik was discontinued in June 2014 as from Android 4.4 KitKat, and it was replaced by Android Runtime (ART), which translates the bytecode into native code during the installation of an application.

Q: Can I switch back to Dalvik from ART in the newer versions of Android OS?

A: No, Dalvik was totally removed from Android 5.0 and onwards. Therefore, users cannot go back to using Dalvik once upgraded.

Q: What is the impact of Dalvik on Android app development?

A: When Dalvik was in use, Android app developers had to make note of its unique VM architecture and memory management capabilities to prevent app crashes and ensure a smooth user experience.

Q: Why was Dalvik replaced by Android Runtime (ART)?

A: ART employs ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, which translates bytecode into native machine code at the time of app installation. This reduces the CPU effort at runtime, leading to quicker application execution, less battery drain, and better system performance. As a result, Google decided to switch to ART from Dalvik.

Related Finance Terms

  • Dalvik Virtual Machine
  • Dalvik Executable (.dex) format
  • Dalvik bytecode
  • Dalvik Cache
  • Dalvik Debug Monitor Server (DDMS)

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