Intel Roadmap Shows Atom E6xx Series Support for Android 2.3

Dave Courbanou

September 13, 2011

2 Min Read
Intel Roadmap Shows Atom E6xx Series Support for Android 2.3

Intel has officially confirmed its next generation of Intel Atom CPUs, the E6xx series, will support Android Gingerbread come January 2012. Is that good news for Intel partners or the mobile industry in general? Here’s some peculiar prognostication on the future of Google’s OS on Intel’s hardware …

Not too long ago the rumor leaked out that Intel was giving its MeeGo mobile OS the deep-six. Intel said the rumor was rubbish, but its actions with MeeGo (i.e. lack of action) seem to suggest otherwise. Now, in an official Intel slide-deck video has surfaced on YouTube, outlining Intel’s future roadmap for the Intel Atom series of processors. Yes, MeeGo is included, but also listed is the E6xx series Atom CPU support of Android Gingerbread 2.3.

Intel has already promised Intel-based Honeycomb tablets, but running Android on x86 hardware has been a lukewarm project in the tech industry. There’s a collaboration of developers who have made efforts to run Android on x86, but officially sanctioned Intel-Android devices are rare. The Cisco Cius tablet runs Android on an Atom CPU, but Cisco also built that tablet from the ground up with very little help from Google or Intel.

So why Android and why now? I think it’s because Intel is losing ground in the mobile wars, partly because ARM CPUs are dominating the space. ARM CPUs have proven more powerful, more customizable and more energy-efficient than most of their Intel counterparts. For Intel to really make a play in the mobile wars, its Atom CPU will have to support Android in a much more official fashion, and perhaps do so cheaper than ARM CPUs do. Only then will OEMs consider Intel as a source for the heart of their mobile devices.

But as Intel moves to support Android, I think it’s inadvertently (or purposely) putting MeeGo out to pasture. And it’s likely the right move, as embedded devices and mobile Linux development are flourishing in the Android world. Add in the fact that Windows 8 will run on ARM CPUs as well as x86, and it’s easy to see why Intel is repositioning its CPU priorities.

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