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Intel runs Android on Atom chips

15 April 10 11:07 GMT

Chip giant Intel has revealed that it can run Google's Android operating system on its Atom chips.

The low-powered chips are designed specifically for portable devices such as smartphones and netbooks.

The move is significant because before now Android has most often been found on mobile phones based around chips designed by UK firm Arm.

The move is likely to help Google push into handheld gadgets including tablets such as Apple's iPad.

The information was revealed by Renee James, general manager of Intel's software and services group, during a session at the chip firm's developer conference in Beijing.

"Intel is enabling all OSes for Atom phones," Ms James is quoted as saying by PC World. Ms James added that Intel already has Android running on Atom and also has many customers interested in applying the work.

If widely taken up it could help Google expand the number of devices that can run the operating system beyond the smartphones where it is most widely used. It would also aid Intel's mobile ambitions and help it spread its chips far beyond PCs running Windows.

Many believe that devices such as slates and tablets, which are bigger than smartphones but smaller than a laptop, could prove very popular with consumers in the near future.

The news comes as Google boss Eric Schmidt hinted to the New York Times that the firm is readying its own tablet PC similar to Apple's iPad. Google said it would not comment on speculation about an own-brand tablet.

Intel is not the first to get Android running on the chip. In 2009, Acer put Android on an Atom notebook and chip firm MIPS has also ported it to run in set-top boxes, digital picture frames and media players.

Atom-powered Netbooks, such as Nokia's Booklet 3G, have been out for some time and 2010 will see the arrival of one of the first smartphones using Atom - the GW990 from LG.

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