Intel's progress into the Android ecosystem hasn't exactly been earth-shattering. The number of high-end and mid-range smartphones equipped with an ATOM CPU still number in the single digits, making the x86 architecture a fairly low priority for app developers. In addition, Intel's emulator images have always lacked support for the Google APIs, leaving developers without the ability to test common staples like Google Maps or push messaging. Fortunately, that issue was recently rectified with KitKat as Google and Intel have finally shipped an x86 system image with Google API support.
ARM still dominates mobile devices more than two years after Intel started making chips suitable for Android phones and tablets. The company is taking another swing at it in 2014 with the newly announced Merrifield and Moorefield chips. These processors pack updated GPUs, new 64-bit architecture, and an efficient 22nm manufacturing process.
The Merrifield chips are now officially known as the Z34xx family. According to benchmarks produced by Intel, the dual-core Z3480 processor is capable of besting the Snapdragon 800 and Apple A7.
Intel may have decided that ARM's advantage within small devices and embedded systems is just too much to contend with, because now the world's largest semiconductor chip maker will start to fabricate ARM chips in its plants. Altera announced at a conference today that Intel would produce the company's ARM Cortex-A53 processor beginning next year. Who would have guessed that Intel would be the company to manufacture one of the world's first quad-core 64-bit ARM chips?
For some reason, Samsung played a bit coy when it announced a pair of new Galaxy Tab 3 models yesterday, and left out the long-rumored Intel chip powering the 10-inch version. This morning Intel let loose with a little PR of its own, finally verifying what Reuters tentatively confirmed: there's Intel inside. The 1.6Ghz dual-core processor powering the Android 4.2 tablet is part of Intel's Clover Trail+ line. With Samsung's massive market presence, the Tab 3 10.1 could easily become the best-selling Intel Android device yet.
You think it's over? It's not over until ASUS says it is. And in addition to a handful of other hardware announcements at Computex, they've pulled the wraps off of a pair of more standard tablets in their MeMO line. The 10-inch MeMO Pad FHD (for "Full HD," we presume) is the more interesting of the two, thanks to its 1920x1080 screen IPS screen and unconventional Intel Atom processor. The MeMO Pad HD 7 is a slight refresh of the original, budget-friendly MeMO Pad, this time with a high-res screen and a quad-core processor.
Most smartphone manufacturers have chosen to ignore Intel's mobile offerings in favor of ARM chips, but Intel is hoping to change their minds with its latest microarchitecture. Today Intel unveiled Silvermont, which reportedly will result in new mobile chips with three times the performance of current-gen Intel Atom processors. Alternatively, Silvermont will enable Intel's next-gen Merrifield smartphone chips to achieve the same performance levels as Clover Trail+ with one-fifth of the power consumption.
At the moment, mobile platforms are vastly dominated by the ARM architecture, licensed to pretty much every major chip/phone maker out there. That isn't stopping Intel from pushing forward with its x86 mobile chips. The latest taker for the Atom line is Chinese manufacturer ZTE, with the oh-so-appropriately-named ZTE GEEK. The 5-inch smartphone was announced at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing.
The GEEK is built around the Atom Z2580 chip, a 2.0Ghz dual-core processor that uses Intel's 32 nanometer fabrication process.
A few days ago, I posted about a student project at a Russian University that aims to run two or more instances of Android at the same time on a single device. It's a technology called virtualization, and we already use it on web servers and developer machines everywhere.
At first glance, the idea sounds interesting, but seems to lack practical uses for the majority of people. Sure, some developers will save a few hours on testing, and industrious users might want to run the latest CyanogenMod nightly ROM alongside their daily driver, but this kind of stuff doesn't really appeal to your neighbors or parents.
Intel, not to be left out of the early CES fun, had a couple of announcements for tech fans today – a low-powered platform formerly known as "Lexington," (lovingly called Atom Z2420) for "emerging" value smartphone markets, and the Atom Z2760, codenamed "Bay Trail" headed for tablets and higher-end smartphones.
Intel says that it's already found partners in Acer, Lava International, and Safaricom for the Z2420 platform, and that the chip will be capable of 1.2GHz speed, 1080p hardware acceleration, and support for two cameras (with burst mode).
If you plan on jumping aboard the Medfield bandwagon and scooping up the new Intel-powered Motorola RAZR i when it hits the streets next month, then the newest update to Chrome for Android is just for you. This small bump adds support for Intel x86 chips - like the ones found in the RAZR i, ZTE Orange San Diego, and ZTE Grand X IN.
This is definitely good news, as lack of Chrome support was one of the last hurdles to jump for x86 phones.