It's been an extremely good quarter for Intel this year with the company releasing its best 1st quarter financial results during its earnings call yesterday, but that wasn't the only news coming out from the chip giant. With virtually all smartphones and mobile OSs on the market today using processors based on ARM designs, from Qualcomm's Snapdragon to TI's OMAP series, Intel has been looking to make inroads into a market it currently has a very small stake in.
Previously, its mobile initiatives were focused on the upcoming Moorestown processor and the Moblin OS that has now transformed into MeeGo after joining forces with Nokia's Maemo. But it appears that the company is now planning to compete directly with ARM in the fast growing Android market by announcing at the Intel Developers Forum that it has ported Google's mobile OS to run on Moorestown.
Originally designed by Google to run on ARM's RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) architecture processors, the open source nature of Android allows other companies to adapt it, with previous successful attempts to get it to run on netbooks powered by Intel's x86 architecture Atom CPU by companies like Acer. The direct involvement of Intel to port Android to Moorestown and offering it as an alternative to handset manufacturers is very interesting and clearly shows the company's intent on going head-to-head with the established players. With some handset manufacturers already said to be interested in using Moorestown, the Android market seems to only be the beginning, as Intel's Renee James stated the company was planning on "enabling all OSs for Atom phones."
I am extremely intrigued to see what other OSs will be ported to run on Moorestown and more specifically how Moorestown will compare to the top ARM-based chips. Perhaps the key factor is whether Moorestown can offer high performance while also being energy efficient, an area where ARM has traditionally been the leader. Will it be able to make an impact and shake-up the current established order? It's also worth remembering that ARM is not resting on its laurels with the next-generation Cortex-A9 architecture and its multi-core variants on the horizon, not to mention Qualcomm's development of a dual-core Snapdragon.
Switching from smartphones to UMPCs, the other major news from Intel is its announcement of a new dual-core Atom processor to be released in the 2nd quarter. A dual-core version of the Atom currently exists, the D500-series, aimed at small desktops (nettops) rather than mobile devices due to its higher power consumption. Hence it's safe to assume this new dual-core chip is aimed at the mobile market. Although it's unclear what class of devices we can expect it to feature in, the prospect of a more powerful but energy efficient dual-core processor in our next UMPCs is pretty exciting. Let us know your thoughts on these new developments from Intel in the comments.[PCWorld and CNET]