Intel is working with Google to bring Android 3.0 to tablets running on low-power Atom chips code-named Oak Trail, according to an Intel executive.
The OS, which is code-named Honeycomb, can run on Oak Trail chips. Release of actual products will depend on the device makers, said Bill Kircos, general manager of marketing at Intel’s netbook and tablet group.
About 35 tablets are expected to become available with Oak Trail chips starting in May from companies like Lenovo, Fujitsu, Samsung and Motion Computing, Kircos said. Oak Trail tablets are expected to be shown at the Intel Developer Forum show in Beijing this week.
Oak Trail tablets will also run Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Intel’s Meego operating systems, Kircos said. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, tablets from Lenovo, Samsung and Fujitsu were shown running only Windows 7. The company has said Meego tablets would become available in the second half of this year.
Intel may not be the first to market with Honeycomb, but the chip maker has a good relationship with Google, Kircos said. The companies have already worked together on a version of Android for TV sets and set-top boxes powered by Atom chips. Intel’s Atom chips are also being used in Cr-48 laptops, which run Google’s Chrome OS.
Android 3.0 is currently only available on tablets based on ARM processors. However, in a blog post on April 6, Andy Rubin, Google’s vice president of engineering, said the company doesn’t believe in a “one size fits all” solution, and that it was supporting development of the OS across many device platforms and processor architectures.
The Oak Trail chip will help Intel better compete with ARM, whose processors go into most tablets today, including Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. ARM processors, which are also used in most of the world’s smartphones, are considered more power-efficient than Intel’s chips.
Kircos said that Oak Trail chips won’t be outstanding on power consumption, but added that Intel would better compete with ARM as the chips become smaller and faster.
Tablets based on Oak Trail chips will come in multiple screen sizes and configurations. The single-core Atom Z670 Oak Trail tablet chip runs at 1.5GHz and includes features from Intel’s smartphone chip code-named Moorestown.
Oak Trail includes Imagination’s PowerVR SGX535 graphics core — which was also used in the original iPad — to play back video. The chip also includes specialized hardware to quickly decode high-definition video and decoders to accelerate the playback of MPEG files. The specialized accelerators enable 1080p video playback.
The chip maker currently offers Pine Trail netbook chips for tablets, which have been adopted by a few companies like Hewlett-Packard and Cisco for business tablets.