Intel Ports Android Jelly Bean To Medfield-Based Smartphones, But Rollout Depends On Carrier
Intel has successfully ported Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS to smartphones packing the low-power Medfield Atom chips. These Intel chips are currently powering some devices running on Android 2.3 and Android 4.0, but it is uncertain at this point just when those handsets will get the Jelly Bean update.
"I'm running it," boasted Mike Bell, Intel's vice president and general manager of the mobile computing group. A number of Intel employees are using Medfield smartphones with Jelly Bean as well, added Bell at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco. Not even Bell, however, predicts when Medfield handsets would be updated to the latest Android version.
"We can't put it on the phones," he explained in an interview with PC World. "We have to give it to the carriers to put on the phones and they go through acceptance testing," Bell added, noting that he cannot announce Jelly Bean testing or deployment on behalf of carriers or device makers.
Intel is a newcomer in the smartphone market, while ARM is dominant. Devices based on a single-core Atom chip are being launched by customers such as Orange ZTE, Lenovo, Lava International, and Megafon. Motorola is also expected to unveil an Intel-based smartphone next week, at a Sept. 18 event in London.
As a newcomer, Intel is still trying to establish a relevant presence in a market dominated by ARM, whose chips power most smartphones currently on the market, including Apple's high-end iPhones. The first smartphone powered by an Intel chip started shipping back in April, and according to Bell the company is pleased with its progress.
"A year ago people were saying 'can Intel do a smartphone?' and now people are saying 'how long till you [grow]?' It's a much better question to deal with," said Bell, as cited by PC World.
Moreover, Intel also plans to launch a dual-core Medfield chip later this year, with smartphones based on the chip expected to be out early next year. The company will also release an integrated chip next year, built using the 22-nanometer process for low-end smartphones. That integrated chip will reportedly be a follow-up to the current single-core Atom Z2000 chip clocked at 1GHz, which is not used in smartphones yet. Also next year Intel will release a low-power Atom chip codenamed Merrifield, designed for high-end smartphones. Merrifield will be made using the 22-nm process as well, and will be faster and more efficient than current Medfield chips made using the 32-nm process. Intel further plans to release chips made using the 14-nm process by 2014, but offered no further details so far.