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Ice Cream Sandwich Ported To X86 202

angry tapir writes "Google's open-source Android 4.0 operating system for smartphones and tablets has been ported to work with x86 processors. The port means that tablets with Android 4.0 based on x86 chips could be on the horizon. Intel is the top x86 chipmaker, and the company has already said it is working with Google to bring Android 4.0 to smartphones and tablets."
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Ice Cream Sandwich Ported To X86

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  • Singularity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyachallenge ( 2521604 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @11:59PM (#38234426)
    It seems our technology continues to expand in all directions and then collapse into a single device. TVs, PCs, and phones are becoming part of the same thing.
  • Re:Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:10AM (#38234484)

    Yes, but on the other hand, even an Intel Atom is significantly faster than even the fastest ARM... pity Intel insists on supplying their own GPU with Atoms, because the NVidia Ion + Intel Atom.combo was actually pretty sweet.

  • Misleading title (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:15AM (#38234514)
    What a terrible title, Ice Cream Sandwich ported to x86, I thought we had finally added a processor to my frozen treats.
  • Re:Singularity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by akirchhoff ( 95640 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:24AM (#38234574)

    This sound like Microsoft's strategy all over again. Anyway you cut it a single platform ecosystem is ugly, as it just lets another monopoly.

    New boss same as the old boss

  • Re:Singularity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:46AM (#38234696) Journal
    Microsoft's strategy in an alternate universe where large swaths of the Windows core are gpl2 or apache, every x86 whiteboxer has their own "Windows Distribution" and their primary leverage consists of the licensing requirements to ship Office out-of-box..
  • by Tr3vin ( 1220548 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:55AM (#38234746)

    This was a direct response to Windows 8 on ARM.

    Not quite. There have been projects adding x86 support to Android since 2009. There have even been devices that used x86 chips, such as the Cisco Cius. This move is more along the lines of Google supporting as many chips as possible to open up the opportunities for manufacturers and developers. So far, the focus has been on ARM chips since they are low power and well suited for mobile phones.

    If anything, Windows 8 is on ARM as a direct response to Android and iOS.

  • Re:Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 02, 2011 @01:04AM (#38234774)

    The X86 instruction set was silly, then it stopped being silly as instruction bandwidth became a limiting factor for RISC processors. Ideally you want a kind of huffman coding for instruction sizes, so that the most frequent instructions are the smallest. Traditional RISC makes all the instruction the same big size, so you get the worst bandwidth through a limited instruction bus.

    In today's world, where on chip busses are so much faster than off chip busses and instruction bandwidths are limiting, having compact instructions over the pins, being converted on chip to regularized RISCy instructions makes complete sense. So X86 stopped being silly a while back.

    If you wanted to design a new instruction set today, you'd optimize for things like instruction bandwidth minimization, security, parallelizability and important application loads (e.g. more DSP). In that light, X86 might be a bit messy, but it is far from silly, especially after the 64 bit cleanup.

  • Re:Singularity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shellbeach ( 610559 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @01:05AM (#38234778)

    This sound like Microsoft's strategy all over again. Anyway you cut it a single platform ecosystem is ugly, as it just lets another monopoly.

    Sure, Microsoft's strategy, only with an open source OS being built in this case by hobbyists and enthusiasts. Definitely sounds like monopoly building at work to me ...

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Friday December 02, 2011 @01:32AM (#38234856) Journal

    It's called a singularity because like the singularity of a black hole it's impossible to see what's beyond it. We can see what's beyond this: more progress and more competition. More diversity, more sales, more fitness of technology to our human needs. More connectivity between people.

    We've gone beyond moving the buttons around on the word processor to sell it again to the same people who bought it before. But we can still see the future from here and it looks grand.

    The Singularity is an even bigger deal, and further out.

  • Re:Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @01:49AM (#38234932) Journal
    As others have pointed out, Atom is pretty weak. It has a rep for being powerful, idky. The Atom is on par with the PowerPC G4... an old chip that uses a lot more energy. I'd be very surprised if ARM couldn't easily match it. If you want more proc power in a low power chip, AMD E-350 blows Atom away. I really don't undertand everyone's crush on Atom.
  • Re:Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @02:23AM (#38235052)

    Clock speed != performance. Especially not between such divergent systems as x86 and ARM. Even comparing clocks between Atoms and Cores is an unreliable indicator of relative performance, let alone comparing different fundamental architectures.

  • Re:Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Friday December 02, 2011 @03:07AM (#38235140) Journal

    Intel's not the only foundry on 22nm. Obviously not, since they buy their lithography equipment from third parties that must have more than one customer. They're investing heavily in this area it's true. Trigate is slick, but there are a lot of up-and-coming technologies Intel can't prevent. Apparently Intel forgot to patent the 90 degree rotation of trigate.

    Intel's problem isn't their hardware, it's the software that runs on their hardware. In the executive suite they've got a Windows habit that's hard to kick. That worked for a while, but that day is coming to an end. People are starting to look from their WinTel PC to their iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or phone and ask: WTF? Why is this all-day battery-powered thing more capable and responsive than the half-kilowatt new desktop before me? For a lot of years the proclivity of Windows to consume all of Intel's Moore's law progress in hardware with slower software was a good thing. It moved a lot of units - encouraging people to upgrade both hardware and software, but Apple and now Google have spoiled that game. It was a trick and now the trick is told, all bets are off. It's a new game now.

    Truth be told I was always amazed that people with a 3GHz dual-core processor just accepted that to get a desktop they should fire it up and go get coffee because they knew it took five minutes. That's performance we wouldn't have stood for in 1984 when processors were less than 0.01GHz and storage was slower still. A 3GHz single core Intel processor from 2005 retiring 4 instructions per clock retires 3.6 trillion instructions in five minutes. A modern SATA hard drive can deliver something like 4.8GB in five minutes. A modern gigabit network connection passes 6GB in five minutes. A reasonable desktop environment takes about 3MB and a few million instructions to present. Do you get what I'm saying? The hardware isn't the problem and it hasn't been since about 1993. Just abandoning crap software isn't going to get Intel out of the woods though now. That might have worked in 2003.

    Intel's software partner Microsoft got the clue first, and now the word is that Windows 8 will be expressive and performant even on Windows XP machines, and run on ARM too. That's not going to move a lot of Intel CPUs any more. By all reports the WinTel marriage is on the rocks and could be over soon.

    In the executive suite Intel's focused on exactly the wrong things: improving what they're doing, not cannibalizing their current markets. That was a good strategy for a while, but it's not going to weather the current changes - as I tried to tell them seven years ago. Now they need something... different.

    So now Android runs on X86. That's a good thing. It can run in a VM on your modern Windows desktop in W7 with Microsoft Virtual PC, and give you the Android apps from your phone in a window on your PC. They can share accounts and data in the cloud. HP should have (and I believe planned to) done this with WebOS, but I believe caved when MS explained the consequences. But Intel's focus is still on the widget, not solving the real problem. Android on x86 is just going to move people to ARM faster if Intel doesn't get their software religion under control. This should be dead simple. Intel doesn't sell Windows and they should not care whether Windows lives or dies. They sell platforms, and help software vendors implement those platforms. They need to shift from that to delivering experiences, and controlling those experiences to a limited extent.

    There are others without Intel's history and established markets who are ready to solve the real problem. Intel can join them or get out of the way. This is going to happen very fast, so Intel doesn't have forever to dither about figuring out where the road ahead might be.

  • hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justforgetme ( 1814588 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @04:02AM (#38235296) Homepage

    x86 never was a champ in power efficiency. It excels in instructions (performance) though, that's why it has come to dominate the "productive computing" market. The architectures Android was tailored towards both in backend and in api were designed and utilized with instruction frugality and hardware limitations in mind.

    Making Android available on the much more powerful x86 ecosystem and its hardware net is counterproductive at best. Why imped a device with the limitations of a toy OS when you can utilize a complete desktop environment?

  • Re:hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rennt ( 582550 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @04:48AM (#38235412)
    Who said anything about desktops? Intel's idea is to get x86 into the Android mobile device market. Not Android into the traditional x86 market.
  • Re:Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Friday December 02, 2011 @05:49AM (#38235592) Journal

    Totally agreed on the AMD E-350 as that is the reason i finally bought a netbook. After dealing with customers constantly saying "can you make this....I don't know...faster somehow?" and having to tell them that without ION Atom was pretty much a lame duck I avoided the hell out of them until I got to work on a customers E-350 and thought "Hell yeah, this is actually usable!"

    As for TFA....why? if you want a killer low resource Linux on X86/64 frankly all you have to do is go buy the AMD E-350 based EEE (don't know if they have it on the Atom) and enjoy expressgate. Instant on, adds a couple of hours to the battery, at least for me, nice GUI, its all easy peasy. If the community would just get behind expressgate/splashtop and be writing apps for it frankly i could easily see the fabled "year of the Linux desktop" meme becoming reality.

    If you want to beat MSFT the trick is NOT to try to get rid of Windows, its to go around it. With EG/ST they still have windows if they need it but as they play in EG/ST and if the community backs it I could easily see them not really needing to go back to Windows much. It already plays most media, has a nice book store and piles of radio stations, all it needs is more apps and games and you could slowly but surely wean users off constantly needing Windows.

  • Re:Singularity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 02, 2011 @06:03AM (#38235638)

    Android is nice but don't kid yourself: it is not built by hobbyists and enthusiasts. It's very tightly controlled by Google -- I really appreciate them making source releases when it suits them, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still controlled by them.

    In case you were referring to the kernel: linux is partly built by hobbyists but it just isn't a major part of the Android strategy so I don't see how that applies here... Google will keep their linux fork and could even swap the kernel if kernel developers really started being difficult -- it wouldn't be painless but it would definitely be possible.

    The point is: Android is tightly controlled by a single entity. Letting them become a monopoly (or even close to one) would be bad. It would be different from Microsoft but still bad.

  • Re:hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @03:20PM (#38241474) Journal
    Eventually, but usually indirectly. For example, you write some Java code for compositing an image or drawing a line on Android - most of the time that's executing it will be in the Skia library, not in the Java code.

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.