Intel and MIPS struggle with Ice Cream Sandwich

Intel and MIPS are flat out trying to get the next version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 4.0, to run on their processors.

Android 4.0, also called Ice Cream Sandwich, works rather well on smartphones which use ARM processors and next month will be seen in the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

The Nexus will use Samsung and Texas Instruments‘ dual-core OMAP4460 chip, but according to Computer World Chipzilla and MIPS are flat out trying to get their processors ready to work with Android 4.0.

Intel has announced that it has got the the OS working on Intel’s x86 mobile processors for tablets and smartphones. The first smartphone based on an Intel chip will reach the market in the first half of next year, Intel has said.

This was made easier for it by the fact that its chums in Google had included OS optimisation for x86, so Intel architecture-based devices can support it.

This was an interesting move by Google. When it included the optimisation feature, Intel was not that interested in Android and was working on MeeGo. Then it suddenly spurned MeeGo like a rabid dog in favour of Android.

Moving to Ice Cream Sandwich will help its chums HP, which had to release its Slate 2 with an old version of Android so that it could run Chipzilla hardware.

Intel is hoping that MIPS technology will be the “game changer” in the mobile market. MIPS is the third processor architecture challenging ARM in the tablet and smartphone space and it already supports Android 3.0, and is the company porting Android 4.0 for tablets.

A MIPS spokeswoman said that Android 4.0 for MIPS will be out soon. Part of the reason that Intel and MIPS have been a bit slower was because the availability of tablets with MIPS processors for Android 4.0 depends on when Google open sources the OS.

Once Samsung’s smartphone ships, Google could open source Android 4.0 code and make it possible to port the OS to other chips and devices.

“If ICS is open sourced in November … based on past experience, we would expect that the code will be demonstrated on MIPS a couple of weeks following the open source, and production-ready within 90 days,” the spokeswoman said.