CHIP DESIGNER Qualcomm said it was a trivial matter to build its Vellamo benchmark code for Android on x86, despite lingering questions over Android app compatibility on x86 processors.
Intel's Medfield Atom processor came up again this week in the Motorola Razr I, which is the first smartphone to boast a Medfield Atom chip that can hit 2GHz. However journalists who got prerelease devices were unable to install apps such as Google Chrome on their devices, with the firm claiming that it needed to work on optimisation. Now Qualcomm, one of Intel's biggest competitors in the smartphone and tablet chip market, said it was trivial for the firm to port its upcoming version of the Vellamo benchmark to Android on x86.
Sy Choudhury, director of product management at Qualcomm told The INQUIRER about porting Vellamo to Android on x86. "It was simple. To make sure we are fair we have to use the compiler that Android is built with and that the end-user would use. We actually use the Android SDK's compiler, the GNU compiler from within the Eclipse environment and set up the build path with the same -O 2 optimisation, which is the most aggressive optimisation you can request from the compiler and out spits the binary for ARM and x86. [...] It was, from our experience, the Android SDK is pretty well thought out and does a good job, making it easy for us," said Choudhury.
Intel won't officially say the exact number or percentage of apps on Google Play that are supported on Medfield Atom smartphones but a person familiar with the matter at Chipzilla told The INQUIRER that the figure is somewhere between the 90 and 95 percent mark, but that the firm would never publicly divulge the exact figure. Given that Qualcomm, one of the largest ARM vendors around, says it is trivial to build Android x86 binaries, that would suggest that Intel shouldn't have to worry too much about compatibility problems for the vast majority of apps.
For Intel app compatibility might be less of a headache if developers had more devices to aim for. The firm faces the problem that it has gone for middle-of-the-road smartphones that really don't showcase its chips, and unless punters make a conscious decision to buy an Intel smartphone - a very unlikely event - then no matter how trivial it is to set up the build environment, developers might simply see it as a waste of time and effort. µ
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