Intel Discusses ‘Braswell’ Chip And Android Efforts

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Intel opens up about its efforts around Android and its new entry-level 14-nanometer Atom chip

Intel used its developer conference in China to publicise its efforts in PCs and the mobile space.

Officials at the company unveiled plans for a new 14-nanometer Atom chip for entry-level desktops and notebooks, and expanded work with Google’s Android operating system.

Braswell Chip

Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group, told attendees at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in China 3 April that the company is developing “Braswell,” a 14nm Atom system-on-a-chip (SoC) that will be the follow-on to its 22nm Bay Trail processors for PCs and convertible devices.

Intel already has revealed that the upcoming 14nm “Cherry Trail” will succeed Bay Trail SoCs in tablets.

Android © Palto Shutterstock 2012Company officials are expecting the Bay Trail chips to enable it to make strides in a mobile device space that is growing rapidly but is dominated by ARM and its manufacturing partners, including Qualcomm, Samsung and Texas Instruments. However, Intel believes that its latest generation of low-power Atom chips, built atop the Silvermont microarchitecture, rival anything ARM can offer in both performance and energy efficiency.

They expect 40 million Intel-based tablets to ship this year – four times the 10 million that shipped in 2013 – and for Intel-based smartphone designs running on the “Merrifield” chips to start hitting the market in the second quarter.

Skaugen reportedly did not give a timeline for when Braswell will launch. However, Intel officials also said that later this year, they will be bolstering Bay Trail with improved performance, better graphics capabilities and enhanced security.

Android Integration

Intel officials also said the chip maker is expanding its efforts with Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems. Skaugen reportedly said Intel officials expect that at least 20 Chromebook designs powered by Intel SoCs will come to market. Four such systems were launched last year.

At the same time, Intel is tightening its embrace of Android. Doug Fisher, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Software and Services Group, said during IDF that the company has released Android KitKat 4.4 with a kernel that is optimised for the chip maker’s 64-bit chips. By doing this, Intel took on a lot of the porting, validating and testing work usually done by developer, and is offering a platform for building 64-bit capable mobile devices.

Going forward, Intel will regularly make Android code for its architecture, company officials said.

Fisher also said that Intel is working to improve security in Intel-based Android mobile devices, and that over the next few months, the chip maker will roll out a broad device developer program. Part of that is available now, in the form of a resource portal that will serve as a single place for Intel resources, such as source code, documents and specifications for Android on the Intel Architecture.

Smart Devices

Later, Intel Build Tool Suite for Android will become available to help developers configure and customise firmware and OS images for new devices. The program also will include such resources as builder training events, local support teams for developers and academic programs for future designers.

The announcements come a day after Intel CEO Brian Krzanich outlined efforts the company is making in smart devices and the Internet of things, including establishing a $100 million (£60m) fund and creating an innovation center in China to fuel development of smart devices, from smartphones and tablets to wearable devices.

Krzanich also showed off the company’s reworked Edison platform, designed to give device makers a foundation to leverage when building smaller, energy-efficient systems.

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Originally published on eWeek.

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