Google and Intel team up for x86 Android
Google and Intel have announced they will be working to optimise the open source Android operating system for Intel's Atom processors. To date, Google has supported ARM processors, and although there have been unofficial ports of Android to x86-based processors, this is the first time that Google has officially taken part in the effort to run Android on Intel hardware. The announcement, made at the Intel Developer Forum, was described as building on the companies' joint initiatives to enable Intel architecture support for ChromeOS and Google TV.
The arrangement will mean that future versions of Android, such as the currently version-numberless Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), will include x86 support and Intel-specific optimisations which would allow Intel to offer better low-power performance. Google's Andy Rubin said: "Combining Android with Intel's low power smartphone roadmap opens up more opportunity for innovation and choice. This collaboration will drive the Android ecosystem forward".
At the announcement, Intel demonstrated a smartphone based on a 32 nm Medfeld SoC (System on a Chip) running Android 2.3 as a reference design. AnandTech were given a demonstration of the Medfeld smartphone, which is expected to arrive in the market to compete with the next generation of ARM-based SoC's like the quad-core Kal-El from NVIDIA.
Timetables for other releases were not discussed by the new partners; a recent Intel presentation slide noted that Android 2.3, Gingerbread, would be available on the Atom E6xx in January 2012. It appears, from the announcement, that Android is now Intel's preferred operating system, at least for smartphones – a position previously held by MeeGo until Nokia disengaged from the project. Whether this new partnership will have an effect on Intel's commitment to MeeGo is unclear.