One of the reasons why Intel Corp.’s application processors for mobile devices have not gained traction on the market of smartphones and tablets is because they so far have not offered any tangible improvements compared to ARM-based offerings. However, it looks like Intel has made itself a decent new selling-point – 64-bit compute capability – by developing a special version of Google Android operating system.
At the Consumer Electronics Show last week Intel stated it had completed the work on the kernel of Google Android 4.4 “Kit Kat” operating system that supports x86 microprocessors and 64-bit compute capability. The version of Google Android, which is fully compatibility with the third-party software ever developed for the platform, will power next-generation smartphones and tablets based on Intel Atom system-on-chips (SoCs). Those smartphones and tablets will, for the first time for Android, support 64-bit processing technology that is common for modern personal computers.
Initially, the 64-bit version of Google Android created by Intel will power media tablets featuring Atom SoCs code-named “Bay Trail-T” with Silvermont micro-architecture that are made using 22nm process technology. Slates based on the “Bay Trail-T” platform are already available on the market, but rely on either 32-bit Android or 64-bit/32-bit Windows 8 operating systems. The first tablets to feature 64-bit Android will be available in the first half of 2014.
Going forward, the 64-bit version of Android will power smartphones based on the code-named “Merrifield” application processor that also boasts Silvermont core(s) as well as 64-bit technology. The chip is made using 22nm process technology. Smartphones featuring Merrifield and 64-bit Android will be available in the second half of next year.
Intel is expected to shed further light on 64-bit Google Android and the Merrifield chip, which is targeted at high-end smartphones, at the Mobile World Congress trade-show in Barcelona, Spain, next month, reports Computerworld web-site.
At present there are no Google Android-based mobile devices with 64-bit processing capability. According to Intel, the technology can boost performance by up to 40% in such applications like Adobe Photoshop. Although the latter is not really popular on tablets, demands for higher performance on mobile devices is growing rapidly these days and 64-bit will likely gain popularity at least for some apps.
Apple last year installed 64-bit-capable application processors into its latest iPhone 5s and iPad Air products, immediately claiming that it was a step ahead of the Android platform. With Intel’s new chips and Android build, the Cupertino, California-based company no longer can claim 64-bit exclusivity on the market of mobile devices.