Android 2.3 Gingerbread coming to Atom—after Ice Cream Sandwich arrives

Google Android logoAccording to a slide in an Intel video, the chipmaker intends to officially support Android 2.3 (codenamed Gingerbread) on its Atom E6XX series of processors. The slide says that the port is coming in January, 2012. The move will make it easier for hardware vendors to ship Android on Atom-based devices.

The ability to run Android on Intel chips isn't new. A community-driven Android x86 project, which first emerged in 2009 and offers unofficial builds that are fairly mature, already has a Gingerbread test release available for download. Google is also planning to support Android on x86 to a limited extent in order to accommodate Atom-based Google TV products, which are reportedly going to get a full port of Honeycomb soon.

What makes the news of Intel's official Gingerbread support puzzling, however, is that the platform will soon be deprecated. Eric Schmidt recently revealed that Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the next major version of Google's mobile operating system, will launch in October or November. This version of the operating system is designed to work across multiple form factors, including tablets and phones.

Intel's plan to launch Gingerbread support on Atom a few months after the ICS release makes the company seem behind the curve. It's possible that Intel is simply not among the favored few who are given early access to the source code by Google.

Another interesting detail that surfaced in the video is the inclusion of MeeGo in Intel's platform lineup. Intel recently reaffirmed its commitment to the MeeGo platform amid rumors that it planned to discontinue its MeeGo development efforts. The slide describes MeeGo as being suitable for a wide range of devices and "perfect" for any developer. Other platforms shown in the list include Windows 7, Windows Embedded, and Fedora. The slide lists Windows XP alongside other Windows variants and uses the anachronistic "Fedora Core" branding to describe Fedora, so it's possible that it's partly based on outdated information.

Intel is still struggling to deliver an Atom chip with a low enough energy footprint for smartphones and competitive tablets. Atom chips are currently used in netbooks, set-top boxes, and other similar hardware applications.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Android, Google, Intel

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