As we know, the source code for Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" is going to be published fairly soon, which means developers of all trades will be able to download, modify, and compile it into ROMs. A few great examples of this are handset manufacturers (SE, Motorola, HTC, etc) working on incorporating ICS into new and existing devices as well as CyanogenMod developers merging the source with all the awesome modifications they've added into CM so far.

Have you ever wondered what it takes these people to build the Android source? I never really gave it too much thought, but whoa - never in a million years did I think that building ICS would take these kinds of resources (according to JBQ, a Google developer working on Android):

ICS will be a much larger release than any previous Android release. That means that it will also put a much bigger strain on the machines that people use to compile it. As a rule of thumb, everything about ICS in AOSP will be about twice as large as it was for Gingerbread.

Here are some preliminary numbers. Final numbers will probably be a bit different, but those should be a reasonable first-order
approximation. Of course, your mileage may vary.

  • 6GB of download.
  • 25GB disk space to do a single build.
  • 80GB disk space to build all AOSP configs at the same time.
  • 16GB RAM recommended, more preferred, anything less will measurably
    benefit from using an SSD.
  • 5+ hours of CPU time for a single build, 25+ minutes of wall time, as
    measured on my workstation (dual-E5620 i.e. 2x quad-core 2.4GHz HT,
    with 24GB of RAM, no SSD).

Naturally, if you plan to work on multiple branches (e.g. ICS release, ICS development branch and AOSP master branch), you need to plan for disk space accordingly, and you could easily end up using 250+GB.

Wow... Time to upgrade your build boxes, gentlemen - this thing is a beast.

Source: Google Groups

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • BeatBlaster

    Real men don't use anything lower than 16GB of RAM anyway! #trololol haha

  • https://sites.google.com/site/remmbermytitans/ Victor

    Wow. My beast machine is only using 8GBs, but 16GBs RECOMMENDED, more PREFERRED. Holy christ.

  • jjrudey

    I'll just wait for Peter Alfonso.

    • Turkey

      LOL. Peter Alfonso doesn't build anything. He modifies existing ROMs.

  • Father Phoenix

    As much as I hate to say it for this I think a Mac Pro is probably the best prebuilt machine for this task. 12 cores, 64 gig of RAM, 6 TB usable out of 8 in RAID 5. I think that can do the build without to much problem. And it will only set you back a little over $12k.

    • http://levelten.org tdmiller productions

      I can build a better more powerful beast then and thing apple can put out for a lower price.

      • miann

        LOL 3 GRAND would be enough to build a pc with those specs and a nice one

        • RajivK

          Yeah right, good luck with that one, you're obviously not in the pc building business.. Only the two cpu's would set you back two grand.. 12k is still way more than is required of course.

        • sluflyer06

          RajivK doesn't know what he's talking about neither does father phoenix. Just go to newegg guys..its not hard.

          Asus Dual LGA1366 socket mobo, 24GB 3x8gb crucial DDR1333 ram, 2x Xeon E5620 quad core 2.4ghz cpus, Corsair Force GT 240GB SATA3 SSD, Corsair 750W powersupply Comes out to all of...(drumroll) $1894. Add a case for hundred bucks and call it a even $2000 for a smoking server/build rig with the latest SSD. 12 grand is insane.

  • x13thangelx

    holy shit..... Thats not even close to double for GB. I can build it perfectly fine on 3gb ram, dual core cpu, and source is ~6gb. Granted, it takes an hr and a half but it still builds fine....

  • Andy in Indy

    If I got that much computer it would ruin my marriage. My wife is still stuck on an old P3 Dell with Windows XP.

  • Iiro

    I still only have 512MB RAM on my computer.

  • GRK4G63

    Chuck Norris can build ICS in his left nostril.

  • VigiDroid

    Wow, 16gb of ram recommended! Building this thing would cripple my system! I only have 2gb of ram! HAHA

    • J

      Same.... Dunno why, but I'm kinda thinking its about time for an upgrade :)

  • Chris

    16gb of ram is pretty cheap these days. When I built my dev box I wanted 32gb, but the sticks weren't out yet at the time. 16gb is minimum if you want to turn off the god awful swap disk. Even with a raid-0 SATA3 SSD set-up, swap disks don't replace the real deal.

    You DON'T want to do the building on a Raid-5 set-up, that would slow everything down dramatically. The only way to peg these CPU's (top end i7) is with tons of ram and a lighting fast storage.

    Besides, us devs get to write this hardware off on our tax returns :)

  • jeshan

    let's hope beast != bloat ..

    • dannyb

      That is just because of the code base, when it gets compiled it becomes much smaller also it would have elements that are meant for tablets and smart phones so some of it will also be redundant.

  • http://www.acsyndicate.net/ AbsolutZeroGI

    My laptop had a stroke just loading those numbers onto my screen O.o

    Yeah right, I'll stick to modding and theming ;)

  • imperticus

    I built many Gingerbread ROMs on my macbook, but the stats mentioned above means I probably won't bother making ICS on it. I got a measly 4gb ram.