intel android prototype

[IDF 2011] During the IDF opening keynote, one of the highlights was the joint Intel/Google announcement  that Intel-powered Android phones prototypes already exist, and that Google is committed to “do its best” to optimize for Intel’s architecture. While the statement itself was fairly blend, Andy Rubin did show a physical prototype and apparently internal developers do have working prototypes.

Of course, that begs the question: “what’s the power consumption like”? Unfortunately, we don’t know. In the past Intel has attempted to make bold moves (remember the LG GW990?), even if the X86 architecture wasn’t yet ready for mobile prime-time. So, when asked “what’s different this time?”, Intel’s CEO replied “we got it right”.

paul otellini andry rubin

Right to left: Paul Otellini (Intel CEO) and Andry Rubin (Android General Manager)

His answer implies a recognition that things were not right before, and this may be a hint that Intel has made a significant breakthrough in terms of power consumption. But has it? It’s hard to say because although ARM has had a historical advantage with its more “efficient” architecture, Intel may use a combination of optimization and manufacturing prowess to compensate for that. Also, as systems on a chip (SoC) integrate more functions, like graphics processors and video hardware, the relative size of the CPU portion diminishes overtime.

Can Intel win in one strike? That would make for good tech drama, but it is unlikely.  What is more likely is that at some point, Intel and ARM will collide in terms of competitiveness and Windows 8 may be the catalyst of it all.

If Intel can enter the mobile space successfully, this may crush the momentum towards using ARM-bases processors in ultra light computer. Nothing is set in stone yet, but Intel’s goal is clear: continue driving the X86 architecture deep into low-power territory until the competition has nowhere to hide. It’s easier said than done, and at the moment, ARM is still getting all the love.

Related story: Are we in an ARM bubble?

Filed in Breaking >Cellphones . Tags: Android, Google, idf, Intel and smartphones.
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