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IDF 2011 | Intel and Google join forces for Atom/Android compatibility

Current and possibly future Android versions could finally be optimized for x86-based tablet and smartphone use

Intel kicked off the first day of its conference in San Francisco with an announced partnership with Google in an attempt to optimize the popular Android operating system for the venerable Atom processor series. The chipmaker first announced its intentions to port the Google operating system for the x86 architecture earlier this year in April.

The move is expected to greatly increase the presence of Atom-based tablets and even smartphones in the market, two key areas where Intel had lost steam due to the surge of more successful ARM-based processors. If all goes as planned, we should be seeing an Android Honeycomb port to the x86 architecture and possibly even an Atom-based system running Ice Cream Sandwich sometime late this year.

A prototype Android smartphone with Intel Medfield was demoed by Intel CEO Paul Otellini, showing that progress has already been made on the smartphone side of the optimization and porting process.

As it stands, Intel is currently sitting at a less than comfortable position with its Atom CPUs with regards to the mobile market. Tablets that are currently available with Atom processors are not well represented and are mostly limited to a Windows operating system, such as the 10.1-inch Tycoon tablet, although dual-boot Windows and Android solutions exist. Nonetheless, customers should have a wider variety of tablets to choose from by next year when both ARM-based Windows 8 and x86-optimized Android tablets should finally be available.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-09-14 (Update: 2012-05-26)