Intel: Android on x86 phones TK in 2012

Intel: Android on x86 phones TK in 2012

Rick Merritt  9/13/2011 1:47 PM EDT

Multiple handset makers will ship next year Android phone using Intel’s x86 chips, vowed Intel chief executive Paul Otellini in a keynote speech here.

SAN FRANCISCO — Multiple handset makers will ship next year Android phones using Intel’s x86 chips, vowed Intel chief executive Paul Otellini in a keynote speech at IDF. Intel and Google expanded their collaboration to deliver optimized versions of Android on x86 to enable the handsets.

The pledge marks the latest twist in Intel’s long road to finding significant design wins in the booming mobile market. Years ago it worked on an integrated applications processor with flash that failed to gain traction, and more recently it worked with Nokia to design a handset using Atom and MeeGo mobile Linux software.

Under new CEO Stephen Elop, Nokia shifted its plans to using Windows Phone 7 and ARM.

“In Q4 2011 [the Atom/Meego handsets] were supposed to ship from Nokia, so we’ve lost six months, but we found new customers and we are off and running,” said Otelli ni in a press Q&A.

“The smartphone business is not established, and the ultimate shakeout is yet to come for who wins and looses so good products can still make a difference and we hope to be one of them,” he added.

“Meego is still alive and well in embedded and the automotive industry where it’s a major asset for us,” Otellini added.

“We also are working with hardware vendors around the world to optimize [Meego] for tablets and phones,” he said. “There remains a continuing interest among handset makers and carriers to have an additional ecosystem that is open and that is the value proposition for Meego,” he said.

Google’s vice president of mobile, Andy Rubin, briefly joined Otellini on stage here to discuss the company’s collaboration. There were few details given except to say the companies will deliver versions of Android optimized for the x86 from the lowest to the highest levels of the software stack.

Otellini also showed working versions of a smartphone reference design based on the Medfield version of Atom and a Medfield tablet running the Honeycomb version of Android. The company had shown the smartphone reference design at an analyst meeting.

Otellini was upbeat but candid about Intel’s chances in handsets.

On ARM and ultrabooks

The annual IDF event here comes as Microsoft reveals first details of Windows 8 in a separate event in Anaheim, including news about the first versions of Windows to run on ARM processors.

“From my perspective nothing has changed–you always have to have the best chips to win,” said Otellini. “Microsoft could energize the tablet market [with Win 8], and the value of the 6 million apps [on x86] is pretty substantial–I don’t think end users will walk away from that, so I like our chances,” he said.

Separately, Intel has completed the design of Haswell, a next generation notebook chip expected to power 2013-class ultrabooks, PC notebooks that are thin and light like the Apple Mac Air. Intel will hold public session here on a new system-level power management framework for components used in Haswell-based ultrabooks.

Otellini promises Haswell systems will have a 20x reduction in power consumption thanks to the new framework. The systems should last ten days in standby mode on a single charge, he said.

Intel also is working on a handful of apps to let smartphones, TVs and PCs share data. The first of the apps, called Pair and Share, will be available in OEM systems this year.

Otellini also announced Intel’s McAffe division will ship later this year a new product called Deep Safe that can use a combination of McAfee software and Intel processor hardware to detect and eliminate previously unidentified malware rootkits.

In other news, an Intel researcher showed a tech demo of a Pentium-class system running off a postage-stamp sized solar cell. Intel will give more details on the lab project in a Thursday keynote.

Finally, Otellini said Intel “already has line of sight on our 14nm process technology, and we are tooling our factories for it 2013.”

The process is initially expected to use existing 193nm immersion lithograpohy. Extreme ultraviolet systems are still in an early development stage with throughput far below commercial needs.

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