Intel plays catch-up to ARM with renewed Android push

A new compiler promises to deliver high-performance apps on devices where Intel has taken a backseat so far

Intel is looking to improve its fortunes in the Android space, releasing a C++ compiler today for building high-performance Android applications that run on Intel processors. The company has provided an SDK for Android on Intel for several years, but has gained little adoption.

Thus, the company's chip family has not been the dominant processor architecture for mobile devices; ARM holds that distinction.

"Intel is definitely working to gain market segment share with Android devices. We're working hard to get there," said Jeff McVeigh, Intel's general manager for performance client and visual computing.

"I get the sense Intel is going to keep pushing its chips to get to a point where it can match ARM in terms of envelope, so I view this as more a work in progress than anything," said Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond.

Intel officials claim the new compiler will provide application performance improvements. "We found that about half the top apps [on Android] are written in a mix of Java and C++, usually because they need a little bit more performance than they're getting out of the Dalvik runtime on Android," said Kevin Smith, Intel's general manager of mobile computing and compilers. Applications can have the UI part written in Java while using C++ for compute-intensive, extra-performance operations, Intel says.

The Intel C++ compiler for Android is an alternative to the GNU C++ compiler included in the Android NDK (Native Development Kit). Intel's compiler supplements the NDK; developers can use it to build Android applications for Intel x86 platforms. It supports hosted development on Windows, OS X, and Linux.

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