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Virtualization co. aims Android at low-cost feature-phones

Feb 12, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

In Barcelona next week, VirtualLogix will demonstrate its VLX virtualization stack running Android and a baseband RTOS on an ST-Ericsson reference design with a single ARM9 core. The company also recently announced a new CEO, Glenda Dorchak, formerly of Windows CE phone and PND specialist Intrinsyc.

(Click for larger view of VirtualLogix CEO Glenda Dorchak

VirtualLogix has been demonstrating single-core mobile phone reference designs based on NXP hardware designs for several years. For example, its VLX-MH product played a key role in the sub-$100, Linux-based PurpleMagic design that Purple Labs created atop NXP's Nexperia Cellular System Solution 7210 hardware design.

Subsequently, Philips spinoff NXP and STMicroelectronics (ST) created an ST-NXP joint venture that was then merged with Ericsson. The resultant ST-Ericsson describes itself as a supplier to Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, and Sharp, employing about 8,000 people, with combined 2008 revenues of $3.6 billion.

Presumably, VirtualLogix's Android phone demo uses a newer ST-Ericsson reference design with a beefier ARM9 processor, and possibly a touchscreen, though VirtualLogix has not shared many details. Positioned as a “high-end feature phone,” the design runs both the resource-intensive Android stack and cellular baseband on a single ARM926-based SoC virtualized by the VLX stack. The design is claimed to support “a range” of 2G/3G cellular technologies.

Neither STM or NXP were members of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), which oversees Android, but Ericsson Mobile Platforms joined in December, along with 13 other companies. VirtualLogix, which now has a new CEO after announcing management changes and layoffs in December (see below), will demonstrate the virtualized Google Android solution at next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Stated new VirtualLogix CEO Glenda Dorchak, “With its support for cost-effective and time-saving cellular system solutions from ST-Ericsson, VLX is significantly increasing the number of applications that consumers can run on their phones for a fraction of the price of a smartphone, effectively enabling open OS platforms to make their way into the high-volume consumer phone market.”

New CEO

In December, after a round of layoffs VirtualLogix named former Oracle and IBM executive Mike Seashols as a new executive chairman and interim CEO, following the departure of CEO Peter Richards. In early January, the company announced the hiring of new CEO Glenda Dorchak, formerly CEO at mobile software firm Intrinsyc Software International.

Originally an embedded hardware and services company, Intrinsyc launched an ambitious mobile phone play in 2006, unveiling its Soleus stack at Mobile World Congress. Built atop Windows CE just like Microsoft's own Windows Mobile stack, Soleus targets lower-end, higher-volume devices than Windows Mobile. The stack led Intrinsyc to record revenues as recently as Q3, 2007, but has increasingly been marketed less in phones than in the PND (portable navigation device) space, and Intrinsyc last fall underwent a 20 percent reduction in workforce of its own.

Prior to serving as Intrinsyc, Ms. Dorchak held various VP and GM positions at Intel's Communications, Consumer Electronics, and Broadband Products groups, says the company.

VirtualLogix's product line-up

The Android solution appears to use a version of VLX-MH (mobile handsets). Other versions of VLX include VLX-DM (digital media), and VLX-NI (network infrastructure). Last August, the company also announced a MID (mobile Internet device) version, and VLX-NI is also available in a High-Availability (HA) version.

Unlike “enterprise” virtualization products such as VMWare, which abstract all physical hardware for easier installation and configuration, VLX lets guest OSes access physical hardware subsystems directly, for faster performance, VirtualLogix says. The company says that despite this direct physical access, hardware developers can securely isolate critical applications. Other touted benefits include reduced materials cost, contained software failures, and software license segregation, according to the company.

Availability

VirtualLogix will demonstrate its Android/VLX implementation running on a ST-Ericsson ARM9 platform at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Feb. 16-19, in booth 2D49 (Hall 2.0). It did not offer further details on pricing or availability.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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