Intel "improving" Android - but is it willing to share?
07.06.2012 | 16:52Intel claims it is making significant improvements to the multicore performance of Android - but isn't sure if it's willing to share them with the open-source community.
Speaking to a select group of journalists in London to mark the launch of the first Intel-based smartphone, the Orange San Diego, the head of the chip giant's mobile division claimed that the single-core performance from the company's Atom Z2640 processor matched or surpassed that of its multicore rivals.
"We get enough performance out of a [Hyper-threaded] single core that we don't need a second core," said Mike Bell, general manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group. "In some cases, having a second core is actually detrimental [to overall performance]."
Bell claimed the second core was often rendered redundant by the Google operating system. "Android doesn't make as effective use of multicore as it could," he said, before adding that Intel's software team was working on the Android scheduler to improve multithreaded performance.
However, when pressed by PC Pro on whether those improvements would be shared with the open-source community and Intel's competitors, Bell remained non-committal. "Where we are required to give back to open source, we do," said Bell.
"In cases where it's not required to be open source, I'm going to think about it. I don't like doing R&D for competitors if they're not going to contribute themselves," said Bell, before adding that "in general, our philosophy is to give things back".
Taking full control
With smartphones, Intel finds itself in the unusual position of being the challenger to the dominant incumbent, ARM. Bell claims the fact that Intel both designs and manufacturers the hardware gives it an inherent advantage over chip designer ARM.
"We've spent a long time making sure the software is as optimised as the hardware is," said Bell of the San Diego handset. "We did the Android port to IA [the Intel Architecture]. We have better software resources than the five or six [ARM-based chip] companies combined. I think we have a distinct advantage - nobody else is doing the optimisations we are.
"Building a generic chip and saying 'there, have it' [to the handset makers] is not the way to win in this space," Bell added.
"You shouldn't see some of the software crashes I see on other devices."
By Barry Collins
Source PC Pro
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