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Two designers of low-power microprocessors – ARM and Via Technologies – this month joined the Linux Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to standardizing Linux operating system. Both companies said that see huge opportunities for Linux in mobile devices, but while ARM processors power the vast majority of mobile phones, chips from Via are only found in a few netbooks (which are sold only in China) and low-power desktop/embedded applications.

In fact, ARM has long been a contributor to the Linux kernel. As the importance of Linux in mobile and embedded markets continues to grow, ARM membership and partnership with leading semiconductor and device manufacturers will help to strengthen the mobile computing software ecosystem and extend the market reach for Linux-based products.

Via Technologies yet has to contribute to Linux Foundation community and this may be rather intriguing: Via’s x86 microprocessors are currently found only in netbooks, notebooks, desktops, low-power servers as well as embedded devices and the company has not announced any x86 platforms for mobile Internet devices, smartphones, etc. It will be interesting to see whether Via plans to release microprocessors or system-on-chip solutions for this kind of devices, following Intel Corp.

“Via shares the Linux Foundation’s goal of fostering the growth of the Linux ecosystem. We are seeing new momentum for Linux, particularly in the mobile space, and are excited about the potential of Linux in this segment and are investing considerable resources in supporting developments in this area,” said Richard Brown, vice president of marketing at Via Technologies.

Via works closely with the Linux community to ensure compatibility with its processor platforms by providing drivers, key documentation and source code. Initially the company seems to target low-power personal computers with Linux support.

“Via is among an important group of companies that are working with the Linux community to help create a whole new class of computing devices. Via’s membership represents an acknowledgement that we’re seeing industry-wide: Linux is fueling the future of the PC industry. We’re excited to work with them on that future,” said Amanda McPherson, vice president of marketing and developer programs.

Even though numerous companies have been trying to popularize Linux on personal computers – desktops and notebooks – for many years, at present Linux is installed only on 1.97% of personal computers, whereas Windows is used on 84.88% of PCs. 

Besides ARM and Via, companies like Advanced Micro Devices, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Novell, Oracle and so on.

Tags: Via, Nano, C7, Linux

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