Intel Wants a Taste of Google's Jelly Bean


After taking a bite of Ice Cream Sandwich, Intel's (NAS: INTC) sweet tooth is moving on to Jelly Bean.

Chip King Kong continues to work with Google (NAS: GOOG) to optimize various versions of Android for its own x86 chip architecture, now including the latest version, 4.1 Jelly Bean. The chip giant is aggressively trying to put an end to ARM Holdings (NAS: ARMH) -based hegemony in mobile applications processors.

An Intel spokeswoman told PCWorld that the pair is collaborating to "enable future versions of Android, including Jelly Bean, on [Intel's] family of low-power Atom processors."

The company did not disclose any particular timeframe on when official support would be unleashed. This echoes the treatment that 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is getting, as Intel had also previously said it was working to optimize that version of Android for Atom-powered smartphones.

So far, there have been three Atom-powered smartphones launched throughout the world, each targeting different geographical segments, none of which is the important domestic market: the Lava Xolo X900 in India, the Orange San Diego in Europe, and the Lenovo LePhone K800 in China. All three of these devices carry Medfield Atom chips and run Android 2.3 Gingerbread. They are supposed to receive software upgrades to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich at some unspecified time in the future.

MIPS Technologies (NAS: MIPS) , one of ARM's more direct rivals in processor IP licensing, is also looking to port Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to its chips and has said it will be available soon to its partners and licensees. While Intel is a giant with plenty of resources to wage a drawn-out war, MIPS is a tiny player hoping to push its way. For example, last quarter it saw sales shrink by about a quarter to $15.3 million, and it has about $109.5 million in cash and investments on the books. In contrast, Intel's top line grew to $13.5 billion (with a "b") and is now sitting on $13.6 billion (with another "b") in cash.

Intel has now taken bites of both Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean -- now it needs to spit something out for users.

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