Android for Atom Announced

Intel and Google today announced that they will optimize future versions of Android for Intel’s family of low power Atom processors.

The expected release date is January 2012 for Gingerbread (Android 2.3) to run on Intel Atom E6xx series processors.

Android 2.3 is coming to Atom after Ice Cream Sandwich arrives, says Ars Technica. Future versions of the Android platform will support Intel technology in addition to other architectures. The joint effort is designed to speed time-to-market of Intel-based smartphones running the Android platform.

A new era of “ubiquitous computing” is here, said Intel CEO and president Paul Otellini during the opening keynote of Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Tuesday morning.

Intel will take advantage of the open-source accessibility of the Android platform and also help enable powerful personal computing experiences that fully leverage Intel technology across a range of devices. This work will enable mobile device OEMs to use Atom chips and tap into the x86 developer ecosystem to further drive the adoption of the Android platform.

“By optimizing the Android platform for Intel architecture, we bring a powerful new capability to market that will accelerate more industry adoption and choice, and bring exciting new products to market that harness the combined potential of Intel technology and the Android platform,” said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini.

“Combining Android with Intel’s low power smartphone roadmap opens up more opportunity for innovation and choice,” said Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google. “This collaboration will drive the Android ecosystem forward.”

Intel’s Medfield-based Android tablet uses a 32nm Atom (Medfield) reference design. The display uses a 10-inch 1280 x 800 panel. Intel is running a build of Honeycomb on the device, but it’s still in alpha, reports Anandtech.

Today’s announcement builds upon the two companies’ recent joint initiatives to enable Intel architecture on Google products, which include Chrome OS and Google TV along with the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) and Native Development Kit (NDK).

It may also signal the end of the Intel Meego thrust. Meego, merged Intel’s x86-centric Moblin and Nokia’s ARM-centric Maemo to form one common OS that runs on both Atom and ARM processors. The Linux-based open source OS is designed to run on netbooks, entry-level desktops, tablets, phones, in-vehicle infotainment and ConnectedTVs. It is hosted by the Linux Foundation.

Samsung said it can’t buy the MeeGo from Intel because the platform is open-source. HTC is also thinking of acquiring a mobile operating system to reduce its reliance on Android, and WebOS may be a candidate after HP’s decision to terminate support for webOS tablets and smartphones.

In February, Nokia dropped Meego, adopting Microsoft Windows Phone 7 instead. It was a stomach punch to MeeGo that left many Nokia developers gasping. LG never executed their MeeGo handset plan, either. The rise of Android and the expected Windows 8 port to ARM delivered left/right jabs that have left Meego supporters stunned and weakened.

Other Mobile operating system include WebOS, introduced by Palm in January 2009. WebOS uses a cloud-based approach rather than using a desktop sync client. On August 18, 2011, HP announced that it would discontinue production of all WebOS related hardware.

RIM plans to focus on the newly acquired QNX in the future. They have already launched the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet running a version of QNX, and the first QNX smartphones expected in early 2012.

The Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad all use an operating system called iOS, derived from Mac OS X. However, IOS currently doesn’t have the inherent flexibility to run on both x86 and ARM hardware, something that both MeeGo and now Android apparently have.

Atom’s Medfield 32nm shrink is targeting smartphones and tablets next year. Silvermont, a 22-nanometer 3D version, is expected in early 2013.

See Dailywireless: Intel Meego Support Questioned

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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