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Intel and Google announce Android-on-Atom pact at IDF

Sep 13, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

[Updated: Sept. 14] — Intel announced it will collaborate with Google to optimize the Android OS for Intel's Atom processor platform, helping the chipmaker in its push into the smartphone market. Also on the opening day of the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), Intel spoke about the upcoming “Haswell” Core processor, also talking up ultrabooks and McAfee embedded security.

Intel is continuing to push its mobile computing efforts on multiple fronts, including a newly announced partnership with Google to optimize Android for the chipmaker's Atom processor platform. The Android/Atom news was tipped Sept 12 when Intel posted a YouTube video stating that it would offer Android 2.3x ("Gingerbread") support on its Atom E6xx processor starting in January 2012. 

In his keynote Sept. 13 at the first day of the Intel Developer Forum, Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini (pictured) confirmed the Android news, and said the first Intel-based smartphones will be due out in the first half of 2012.

"The first phones … will be all Android-based, hence the important of the Google partnership," Otellini said during a question-and-answer period with journalists and analysts after the talk.

Otellini was joined on stage by Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile for Google, and the two showed off a prototype smartphone running Intel's "Medfield" chip and what appeared to be Android 2.3. They also briefly showed a Medfield-based tablet prototype running Android 3.x ("Honeycomb") operating system. While the E6xx is a general-purpose embedded processor, the upcoming Medfield chips will be focused primarily on smartphones and tablets.

Last week, Intel denied rumors it was backing away from its pet open source Linux project MeeGo. However, it's clear that Intel has turned away from MeeGo as a smartphone platform, if not on other devices. The pivot began when Intel's MeeGo partner Nokia abandoned the MeeGo project for Microsoft's Windows Phone platform back in February. (For much more background on the Android-on-Atom story, please see our previous coverage.)

Ultrabooks and more details on "Haswell"

The Google partnership news came during a talk by Otellini that continued the computing continuum message he first brought up at the IDF in 2009. The idea is that users are looking to have a consistent and secure computing experience that can move from device to device without interruption.

Outlining the way Intel is pushing toward that goal, Otellini said, "The era of ubiquitous computing is now here, and its well-established." Intel's ultrabrook strategy, first broached during the Computex show in May, is a key part of the strategy, said Otellini.

Intel executives see ultrabooks as very thin and light laptops that offer many of the features of tablets — from long battery life to instant-on capabilities. They are also touted for offering the advantages of traditional notebooks around such areas as productivity and compatibility with other systems.

Otellini said such OEMs as Asus, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba are already beginning to ship — or will ship before the holiday season — the first wave of ultrabooks powered by current "2nd Generation" Core processors. The next round will come in 2012 and will run on Intel's upcoming 22-nanometer "Ivy Bridge" chips, he said.

The third stage will be around Intel's "Haswell" processor, a system-on-a-chip (SoC) design that Otellini said will cut idle platform power by 20 times, and will offer as much as 10 days worth of battery life in "standby usage." The design of Haswell — an Ivy Bridge followup that's due out in 2013 — is complete, he said.

Tablets, "Pair and Share," McAfee, and a solar-powered Pentium

Intel also demonstrated a number of upcoming features that are designed to give users a consistency across multiple computing devices. With an Intel engineer, Otellini showed off a Cisco Cius business tablet powered by an Atom chip and running Android.

They also showed off an application called Pair and Share that enables users to easily move around photos and data from one device to another. The engineer took a photo of Otellini on stage using the Intel-based smartphone, then instantly transferred that image to an Acer all-in-one computer.

Another feature, called the Teleport Extender, lets users communicate via on devices such as the Acer computer. Those applications are available to OEMs today to put into their systems, Otellini said.

The engineer, using a Toshiba ultrabook, demonstrated another application that enables users to more easily share everything from video to photos to messages via a central digital dashboard accessible to others. That application will be available next year, the engineer said.

In the area of security, Otellini said the pairing of Intel and security software vendor McAfee — which Intel bought last year for $7.6 billion — will result in DeepSAFE, a software-and-hardware platform that works with Intel's Core chips. DeepSAFE is said to function below the operating-system level to provide greater protection against malware.

Candace Worley, senior vice president and general manager of endpoint security at McAfee, said that traditional software-based security offerings can't give the same kind of security that solutions with a hardware element can. Sharing the stage with Otellini, Worley said the DeepSAFE technology — which MacAfee will launch later this year — leverages Intel's Virtualization Technology (VT).

During his keynote, Otellini also demonstrated a solar-powered Pentium chip. He said there were no immediate plans to productize the solar-powered technology, but he wanted to show some of the ways Intel engineers are working to help drive down the power consumption.

Darryl Taft is a writer for eWEEK.

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