Build PaddlePaddle for Android

There are two approaches to build PaddlePaddle for Android:

Cross-Compiling Using Docker

Docker-based cross-compiling is the recommended approach because Docker runs on all major operating systems, including Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.

Build the Docker Image

The following steps pack all the tools that we need to build PaddlePaddle into a Docker image.

$ git clone
$ cd Paddle
$ docker build -t paddle:dev-android . -f

Users can directly use the published Docker image.

$ docker pull paddlepaddle/paddle:latest-dev-android

Build the Inference Library

We can run the Docker image we just created to build the inference library of PaddlePaddle for Android using the command below:

$ docker run -it --rm -v $PWD:/paddle -e "ANDROID_ABI=armeabi-v7a" -e "ANDROID_API=21" paddle:dev-android

The Docker image accepts two arguments ANDROID_ABI and ANDROID_API:

Argument Optional Values Default
ANDROID_ABI armeabi-v7a, arm64-v8a armeabi-v7a
ANDROID_API >= 16 21

The ARM-64 architecture (arm64-v8a) requires at least level 21 of Android API.

The default entry-point of the Docker image, paddle/scripts/docker/ generates the Android cross-compiling standalone toolchain based on the argument: ANDROID_ABI or ANDROID_API. For information about other configuration arguments, please continue reading.

The above command generates and outputs the inference library in $PWD/install_android and puts third-party libraries in $PWD/install_android/third_party.

Cross-Compiling on Linux

The Linux-base approach to cross-compile is to run steps in manually on a Linux x64 computer.

Setup the Environment

To build for Android's, we need Android NDK:

wget -q
unzip -q

Android NDK includes everything we need to build the standalone toolchain, which in then used to build PaddlePaddle for Android. (We plan to remove the intermediate stage of building the standalone toolchain in the near future.)

  • To build the standalone toolchain for armeabi-v7a and Android API level 21:

bash your/path/to/android-ndk-r14b-linux-x86_64/build/tools/ \ --arch=arm --platform=android-21 --install-dir=your/path/to/arm_standalone_toolchain

The generated standalone toolchain will be in your/path/to/arm_standalone_toolchain.

  • To build the standalone toolchain for arm64-v8a and Android API level 21:

bash your/path/to/android-ndk-r14b-linux-x86_64/build/tools/ \ --arch=arm64 --platform=android-21 --install-dir=your/path/to/arm64_standalone_toolchain

The generated standalone toolchain will be in your/path/to/arm64_standalone_toolchain.

Cross-Compiling Arguments

CMake supports choosing the toolchain. PaddlePaddle provides android.cmake, which configures the Android cross-compiling toolchain for CMake. android.cmake is not required for CMake >= 3.7, which support Android cross-compiling. PaddlePaddle detects the CMake version, for those newer than 3.7, it uses the official version.

Some other CMake arguments you need to know:

  • CMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME must be Android. This tells PaddlePaddle's CMake system to cross-compile third-party dependencies. This also changes some other CMake arguments like WITH_GPU=OFF, WITH_AVX=OFF, WITH_PYTHON=OFF, WITH_RDMA=OFF, WITH_MKL=OFF and WITH_GOLANG=OFF.
  • WITH_C_API must be ON, to build the C-based inference library for Android.
  • WITH_SWIG_PY must be OFF because the Android platform doesn't support SWIG-based API.

Some Android-specific arguments:

  • ANDROID_STANDALONE_TOOLCHAIN: the absolute path of the Android standalone toolchain, or the path relative to the CMake build directory. PaddlePaddle's CMake extensions would derive the cross-compiler, sysroot and Android API level from this argument.
  • ANDROID_TOOLCHAIN: could be gcc or clang. The default value is clang.
  • For CMake >= 3.7, it should anyway be clang. For older versions, it could be gcc.
  • Android's official clang requires glibc >= 2.15.
  • ANDROID_ABI: could be armeabi-v7a or arm64-v8a. The default value is armeabi-v7a.
  • ANDROID_NATIVE_API_LEVEL: could be derived from the value of ANDROID_STANDALONE_TOOLCHAIN.
  • could be ON or OFF, and defaults to ON, when ANDROID_ABI=armeabi-v7a;
  • no need to specify when ANDROID_ABI=arm64-v8a.
  • ANDROID_ARM_NEON: indicates if to use NEON instructions.
  • could be ON or OFF, and defaults to ON, when ANDROID_ABI=armeabi-v7a;
  • no need to specify when ANDROID_ABI=arm64-v8a.

Other useful arguments:

  • USE_EIGEN_FOR_BLAS: indicates if using Eigen. Could be ON or OFF, defaults to OFF.
  • HOST_C/CXX_COMPILER: specifies the host compiler, which is used to build the host-specific protoc and target-specific OpenBLAS. It defaults to the value of the environment variable CC/C++, or cc/c++.

Some frequent configurations for your reference:

cmake -DCMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME=Android \
      -DANDROID_STANDALONE_TOOLCHAIN=your/path/to/arm_standalone_toolchain \
      -DANDROID_ABI=armeabi-v7a \
      -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=your/path/to/install \
      -DWITH_C_API=ON \
cmake -DCMAKE_SYSTEM_NAME=Android \
      -DANDROID_STANDALONE_TOOLCHAIN=your/path/to/arm64_standalone_toolchain \
      -DANDROID_ABI=arm64-v8a \
      -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=your/path/to/install \
      -DWITH_C_API=ON \

There are some other arguments you might want to configure.

  • CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=MinSizeRel minimizes the size of library.
  • CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE-Release optimizes the runtime performance.

Our own tip for performance optimization to use clang and Eigen or OpenBLAS:

  • USE_EIGEN_BLAS=ON for armeabi-v7a, or USE_EIGEN_FOR_BLAS=OFF for arm64-v8a.

Build and Install

After running cmake, we can run make; make install to build and install.

Before building, you might want to remove the third_party and build directories including pre-built libraries for other architectures.

After building,in the directory CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX, you will find three sub-directories:

  • include: the header file of the inference library,
  • lib: the inference library built for various Android ABIs,
  • third_party: dependent third-party libraries built for Android.