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Intel porting Android 3.0 for tablets this year

Paul Otellini, Intel CEO, says his company is working hard to port Google’s tablet specific Android 3.0, known as ‘Honeycomb’ to the x86 architecture.

He told investors and reporters “We’ve received the Android code – the Honeycomb version of Android source code – from Google, and we’re actively doing the port on that.”

Rumours were circulating for many months about this X86 port, but Otellini has now confirmed it to be true. He also has said that they are working with ‘first tier notebook vendors’ to create tablets built around Intel processors. He said that they should be able to “ramp those [Honeycomb-based] machines over the course of this year for a number of customers.”

Additionally Intel appear to be on schedule to release their smartphones shortly, with Otellini claiming “I would be very disappointed if we didn’t see Intel-based phones for sale 12 months from now.”

The smartphone market has been a key target point for Intel, with Otellini saying almost two years ago “this is where we think the growth opportunity is for us”.

Otellini also said “We…launched Oak Trail last week, which is a platform designed specifically for tablets. We are seeing very good design momentum with Oak Trail across multiple operating systems. Over the course of this year, Intel will have tablet platforms that run Windows, Android, and MeeGo. “We remain committed to success in the smartphone segment, and we’re actively working with a large number of handset manufacturers and carriers around the world on Medfield-based designs.”

Intel haven’t had it all their own way this year however, with Nokia deciding to go with the Windows Phone. Otellini said “In terms of phones, obviously we lost Nokia, which took a lot of the wind out of the sails for phones this year.” He was quick to add that their focus was quickly redirected elsewhere, rather than dwelling on lost possibilities “We’ve redirected those resources onto a number of other major accounts, focusing on carriers who want their own devices, and also on handset manufacturers. They’re all based on Medfield, which I think is still the first 32 nanometer phone apps processor in the industry.”

Intel’s move into the smartphone market means they will be going head to head with British chip maker, ARM. “In terms of x86 versus ARM, it’s not just about the core, as much as we would like it to be and as much as I guess the ARM guys would like it to be. It’s about the core, the overall capability of the system-on-chip, the things you put around it – the graphics, the comm subsystems, the media-processing subsystems – and the overall power envelope relative to the performance that you can deliver of the SoC.”

“I’d also point out, that all of the major operating systems in phones – in smartphones – are written at a high level, such as they’re cross-platform and portable. And so it is easier for people to move from ARM to Intel, or ARM to ARM, than it has been in the past in the Windows world.”

KitGuru says: Intel v ARM, interesting times ahead of us.

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