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Android on an x86 Tablet

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Android on an x86 Tablet

Android on an x86 TabletAndroid on an x86 tablet?  Seemed like an impossible task, until now.

Previously, Android was limited to running on tablets and phones with an ARM processor, such as the NVDIA, Samsung and Qualcomm processors.  However, Intel has been working hard to grab a larger share of the market that currently uses ARM processors.

Companies such as Intel and AMD manufacturer processor chips or CPUs using an x86 architecture.  The x86 CPUs have been primarily for full size PCs supporting, originally DOS, and now, Windows, Linux, etc.  Previously, x86 CPUs were power hogs requiring large amounts of power and generating large amounts of heat. These machines required relatively large fans and heat management designs.  As PCs became smaller and more portable running on batteries, this caused a challenge with manufacturers to design more efficient CPUs that drew less power and generated less heat.  Even some notebooks had heat issues and required extra fans to keep them running at a good speed.

With the advent of the tablet PC, they don’t have fans.  The ARM processors run cool and draw much less power.  Batteries lasted longer due to the lower energy requirements.  x86 manufacturers felt the pressure to produce the same cool running processors, but maintain the speed and reliability.

Intel released the Atom line of processors as a low power SoC (System on Chip) to support the x86 based operating systems, such as Windows.  So, it was ARM for Android, and x86 for Windows.  Until now…..

Android on an x86 tablet

Last year, Intel announced a version of their SoC Atom processor family designed for smartphones and tablets.  Based on a partnership between Intel and Google, this new Atom processor will support the Android operating system.

Initially, the Atom family was not designed to support the Linux/Android operating systems, but that has been corrected with this new series of processors.

We are just now seeing Android on an x86 tablet from manufacturers such as the ASUS, Samsung, Acer, Toshiba, and HP are all running the Android operating system using an Intel Atom x86 processor.

 

Intel Prepares Windows Tablets with Atom Clover Trail chip

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Intel Atom ProcessorIntel is quietly and quickly developing central processing x86 chips to combat the popular ARM processors.  Manufacturers have shown preference to the ARM processors since they have low power consumption which allows for much longer battery life over the legacy x86 processors.  The lower power consumption also lends itself to lower heat issues, which also allows for smaller devices.

Intel initially developed the Atom series of processors with the single core Oak Trail processor which performed well.  Now, Intel is rumored to be readying the Clover Trail dual-core processor for tablets and convertibles to be delivered in November, 2012.  Which is about the time Windows 8 will be released.

The Atom series of processors are expected to get about 8 to 10 hours of actual processing battery life, and weeks of standby time.

The most interesting part of the Atom processors is that they are x86 processors, not ARM processors.  The advantage of this is that they will run the full version of Windows 8 and support all the legacy desktop applications developed for x86 computers.  However, the x86 will not support an Android OS and run all those low cost apps.

Tablets with ARM processors will only be able to run the Windows RT version of Windows 8, which is a run time version.  Windows RT is developed using much of the code from Windows 8 and has the same look and feel.  But, Windows RT on a ARM device will not run the legacy x86 applications.  Instead, they’ll be limited to apps designed for the new Metro user interface included in Windows 8, and will support apps downloaded and installed from the Windows app store.

Intel has laid out specific requirements that they would like to see on devices sporting the Atom processor.  You may look at this as a feature assurance approach so that if you are buying “Intel Inside” you can be assured of getting a certain laundry list of features.

Intel Requirements

Intel is definitely taking a more aggressive approach in combating the emergence of ARM processors.  However, we have yet to see any speed comparisons.  With the quad-core ARM processors being released on ARM tablets, you have to wonder how the dual-core Clover Trail processor will stack up.

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