Intel is porting Google's Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" over to its x86 architecture.
Tuesday during a conference call with reporters and analysts, Intel president and chief executive Paul Otellini said that the company is currently hard at work porting Google's tablet-oriented Android 3.0 operating system (aka Honeycomb) to the x86 architecture. He added that Intel expects to ramp those Honeycomb-based devices over the course of the year "for a number of our customers."
Reports indicate that Intel will reveal its Android-based x86 platform sometime during Q3 2011 as "PRC Plus," yet Acer, Asus and Lenovo have reportedly already signed on to produce devices based on this particular platform, with manufacturing kicking off during the second half of 2011. Cisco will supposedly use the Oak Trail platform with Honeycomb for the enterprise sector.
"We...launched Oak Trail last week, which is a platform designed specifically for tablets," he said during the call. "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."
The news arrives after Microsoft revealed during CES 2011 in January that Windows 8 will run on the ARM architecture licensed to Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. However, just recently the Redmond-based company said that it won't release an official tablet product until the products can be "distinctive" even though the company plans to demo Windows 8-based tablets in June.
In addition to Microsoft and its partnership with ARM licenseese, the Windows 7-based Acer Iconia Tab W500 features AMD's Fusion platform and is already shipping here in the States. Chip rival AMD just recently admitted that it's now looking for driver development engineers to bring Google's Android OS to its Fusion platform.
There's no question that Intel has a long road ahead, entering a market saturated by ARM architecture-- a makeshift universe where smartphones and tablets are based on ARM and nothing is based on x86. Sure, current ARM processors can't compete with x86 in raw processing power. But x86 carries somewhat of a burden architecturally (it's ancient, for starters), and Intel doesn't have the incumbency advantage currently used in the PC sector. ARM is also a licensed technology-- as far as we know, x86 in the mobile sector isn't.
But Intel also plans to enter the smartphone market within the year, crashing the party with its upcoming 32-nm Medfield processor. "I would be very disappointed if we didn't see Intel-based phones for sale 12 months from now," Otellini said during the call. "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 began production of Medfield back in February. The SoC will reportedly come packed with an Atom CPU and numerous specialized cores (HD graphics, etc.), and will supposedly have the longest active use time of any chip available in the mobile sector. Intel's previous mobile chip, code-named Moorestown, failed to find any traction in the mobile market.
As for Intel and its Android plans, reports on Wednesday indicated that the OS will be fitted to take advantage of the x86 architecture. Intel is reportedly "improving" Android's user interface and overall experience. More news is expected to arrive sometime during Q3 2011.