Just minutes ago at the CES keynote, Intel announced, briefly, that they have a dual-OS platform ready. Windows and Android on one device.
The live demo worked!
We know little right now apart from the fact that the Android part will include additional security. In an on-stage demo the switch time was near-instant. Have Intel developed a better solution than ASUS, Insyde? Does it have a true dual-virtual container? The exciting thing is that Intel have the best access to hardware drivers so getting all the hardware mapped through to both operating systems could be easier.
Multi windowing, collaboration, ‘full size’ virtual keyboard, digitizer, and performance with a 12-inch screen. Sounds like an Windows Tablet right? No, Samsung have launched the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro, a 12-inch tablet running Android.
Dual-OS. It’s a possible solution that could bridge the differences between Windows and leading mobile operating systems if it’s done right. ASUS already teased us with us the dual-OS ATIV-Q but it looks like there’s a smaller tablet offering coming. The M80T has been spotted going through testing at the FCC.
The dual-OS variants are labelled M82T, L82T and R82T ‘Dual-OS’ and that, my friends, is really all there is to know right now.
If Intel and friends can pull-off the dual-OS trick in a slick way they’ll have a valuable selling point and a ‘bridge’ between the app-gap in Windows and the consumer richness of Android. Ramos already have a set of Intel-powered Android tablets in China but the Ramos i10 pro is said to be coming with a dual-OS option on a Baytrail core.
Back at IDF September, Intel and Google finally announced that they’d be working together to get Android up and running on x86 devices. While there were a number of Android-running x86 tablets and a smartphone prototype or two floating around IDF, it wasn’t immediately apparent what the major advantage of Android 0n x86 devices would be for your everyday consumer. In fact, it wasn’t even apparent exactly why any of the existing AndroidÂ manufacturesÂ would want to create x86 Android devices, given that up until now, pretty much all of their R&D has been focused on ARM devices. However, Intel may actually be perfectly positioned to be able to stimulate the growth of an upcoming segment of Android device — one which truly converges mobile and desktop functionality into one device. Chippy has coined such hybrid functionality: ‘High Dynamic Range Computing’ (HDRC), and the time might just be right for Intel to ignite this segment and find their own place in the Android market.
Any consumer-available Android device that you can get your hands on today uses ARM architecture which is fundamentallyÂ incompatibleÂ with the x86 architecture that Intel products are based on. Android was originally built to run exclusively on ARM (though being open-source, some community projects were able to do some porting to x86). It wasn’t until several years after Android was on the scene that Intel and Google finally got together to work on full hardware-level Android on x86 support. That work is still ongoing. We’ve had our hands on Android devices running with Intel’s x86 architecture, but it is clear that there is still much optimization to be done. Once everything is complete though, won’t a device running Android on ARM be, for the user,Â indistinguishableÂ from a device running Android on Intel’s x86?
If ARM has battery life, Intel has power. It’s an interestingÂ dichotomy — we’ve watched as ARM-based devices have continuously scaled up to meet performance demands as the Android device market has grown. Intel has the opposite problem; they’ve got power, but have been constantly trying to scale it down to work with mobile at the tablet/smartphone level. Intel’s Atom series is a notable effort in the last several years to scale things back far enough that users could get reasonable performance and reasonable battery life out of a netbook. Once Intel can achieve the same thing at the smartphone and tablet level (and they’ve been working on this for years), they’ve got the expertise to push the processing end of things far beyond what we currently see from ARM — not to mention that the same x86 architecture that will be found in Intel-based phones and tablets is capable of booting full-fledged desktop operating systems.
If Intel plays their cards right, they could do very well in the Android market by stimulating the HDRC segment. HDRC isn’t really a mainstream thing at this point — most people have their desktop computer and they’ve got a smartphone and maybe a tablet. They view these two devices as fundamentally different. The promise of HDRC is creating a device that scales so well that it can converge these two categories of devices, which are viewed as different, into a single unit. This is a serious challenge because essentially it asks for a single device that is instant-on and has phone-like (all day) battery life, but, when plugged in, can be as powerful as one would expect from a laptop or desktop. Intel has the expertise for the high-end of the HDRC spectrum, we see this daily from the desktop computers that we work on. If they can combine this with phone/tablet-like low-power functionality, they could blow ARM out of the water and define the HDRC space that mobile technology has been steadily moving toward for the last 5 years.
As I tool a look at the MSI booth at CeBIT yesterday I couldn’t stop myself from getting a little hands-on with the Windpad 110W. AMD Fusion-based and equiped with a nice optical mouse pointer and full SD card slot it’s a tablet design that could rally benefit from the next-gen OS and platforms.
The MSI rep nods and smiles and I talk about 1366×768 and Windows 8, as we discuss the reason for having a mouse pointer in a 1KG tablet and how Windows 8 + Clover Trail W with a fast SSD could really bring usable low-cost productive tablets to end-users.
MSI won’t say anything about new products but they’re clearly thinking about this. In tact, I got the impression that they’re more interested in Windows tablets than in Ultrabooks which they tell me are not going to be broguth to the market until they have taken a longer term look at the Ultrabook market.
It’s a blast from 2011 to play with the Windpad again but I think that we’re going to see more of this later this year. Tablets, convertibles and, my favorite, the detachable Atom-powered Win8/Android screen and Intel Core-driven keyboard base station, all in under 1.5KG!
We had time to get some more hands-on with the Intel Smartphone reference design here at MWC this morning. It feels powerful! Apart from an Intel-optimised build of Opera, Gameloft have also been porting over to the Intel platform. It’s worth noting that applications that don’t use any NDK, will run on the Intel Android platform without any modification. There’s an ARM-NDK emulation layer in there too so even some apps that do use ARM NDKs will work but for the best experience, ISVs are going to have to recompile their apps to use the Intel NDK where needed.
Don’t forget that the platform includes Wi-Di support and has some image processing hardware inside. Apart from that though, it’s difficult to see a clear advantage for Intel right now, especially if ISV can’t be bothered to port their NDK-reliant apps over.
I’m heading to Barcelona today to attend Mobile World Congress where I expect to be bombarded with phone, smartphone, tablet, app, operating systems and telecom news but this year I’m going with a specific focus. I’ll be looking for more evidence of crossover from the traditional mobile world – platforms, operating systems and software – into the world of general computing.
Intel have kindly invited me along to take a look at their Android smartphone ecosystem (along with Appup and Ultrabook information) and I should be seeing devices close-up on Monday but that doesn’t mean I won’t be taking a look at the competition. I’ll be looking for next-generation platforms from the ARM ecosystem too. With ARM Cortex A15 designs and Qualcomm’s ARM V7-based Krait core we’ve reached a point where processing power per Mhz moves beyond what Intel Atom is currently offering. I’ll also be on the lookout for designs that take the mobile platform into the desktop space, modular designs too.Â It will be interesting to see software that also does the job of bridging mobile and desktop usage. The Google Chrome Beta for Android ICS is one such example of software crossing over.
I’ll be looking closely at the Android OS too. It’s no longer exclusive to the ARM architecture so it will be interesting to get a feel for whether Intel’s work on optimizing the OS for their mobile platform has given it an advantage. I wonder if there’s an X86 optimised version of the app yet.
Finally ill be on the lookout for news from the Microsoft camp.
I’ll also be getting as much hands-on with tablets as I can during the show and as usual, bringing you news, video, images and information as it happens. Ben and the rest of the team are also tracking the news and will he bringing you information and round-ups on Carrypad.
Stay tuned to Carrypad and the Carrypad twitter channel and for some behind-the-scenes info you cam follow me, Chippy, on my twitter channel. Keep an eye on the database to because we’ll be updating it with new products during the show.
April feels like a long way away but could be as little as 6 weeks. With Chrome for Android highlighting how important it is to get updated now though, I know how frustrating any wait can be.
I’ve been testing ICS on the A500 for the last week via a Thor ROM. It’s given me the chance to see how Chrome for Android is performing and I have to say, it’s very good. The sync features are worth having and the quality of rendering and input handling means I was able to edit a post on the WordPress web-based tools, work with Google Plus and generally get productive with web-based applications.
Unfortunately the ROM isn’t that stable for me so I can’t really say I’m running with ICS. Stumbling more like!