Open source effort brings Android 4 to AMD x86 processors

Intel is working with Google for x86 support, but so far it is absent from the Android 4 party

Google's open source Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system for smartphones and tablets has been ported to work with x86 processors, says Android-x86.org, a group of volunteer developers focusing on Android for x86.. When Google announced Android 4 in October, it said it would support both ARM and x86 processors, but Google's Android 4.0 SDK so far supports only ARM.

The independent open source effort has ported the source code of Android 4.0.1 to work with tablets based on Advanced Micro Devices' low-power x86 chips code-named Brazos, which are typically used in netbooks and low-end laptops. Some AMD chips are being used in tablets such as MSI's WindPad 110W. The port means that tablets with Android 4.0 based on x86 chips could be on the horizon, but using AMD chips rather than Intel's.

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Google released the source code for Android 4.0 earlier this month. However, most of the Android OS development has been centered around ARM processors, which are used in most smartphones and tablets today. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone with Android 4.0 has already been released in the U.K., and ARM-based device makers are promising upgrades on tablets and smartphones to Android 4.0 from Android 3.x "Honeycomb."

The open source port of Android 4.0.1 to x86 is still a work in progress. The source code, which is available for download on Android-x86.org, provides Wi-Fi, multitouch, and hardware graphics acceleration capabilities. It does not provide sound, camera, Ethernet networking, or hardware acceleration for Intel-based processors yet.

MIPS, a competitive processor architecture to both x86 and ARM, will also get Android 4.0 soon. A spokeswoman for MIPS Technologies, which licenses the architecture, earlier this month said the company was waiting for Google to open source the software so its engineers could port the OS.

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