Moving Android Beyond Phones
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Embedded Alley Solutions, a provider of embedded Linux products, today announced it plans to bring the Android mobile application platform and development environment to the MIPS processor platform.
Embedded Alley is partnering with RMI Corp., a Cupertino, Calif.-based semiconductor company that is a MIPS licensee and makes a line of low-power processors, to port Android's Dalvik virtual machine to the MIPS processor.
MIPS was at one time the semiconductor arm of Silicon Graphics before being spun off as a stand-alone chip provider in 2000. It now makes processor architectures for licensees, similar to ARM.
The company said this effort does not merely port the Google/Open Handset Alliance software stack to a new CPU, but is designed to expand the number and type of applications that can use the Android platform.
Embedded Alley didn't say what specific kinds of devices this would yield, saying that was up to licensees of the RMI processor to decide. For now, it's simply making the development environment available, but it has an idea of where Android might show up.
"We see a lot of attractiveness in set-top boxes, TVs, and being able to take advantage of the user interface capabilities and developer environment an SDK would bring," Paul Staudacher, president of Embedded Alley, told InternetNews.com.
Android an alternative to Windows XP?
Android has started slowing in the marketplace, but is gaining some traction. In addition to phones, netbook vendors are now considering it as an alternative to Windows XP. "We at Embedded Alley are certainly convinced that Android is going to find a lot of traction in other types of devices. So this is not just us licking our finger and putting it in the wind, it's customers asking us to help build Android products," said Staudacher.
The first MIPS-compatible processors supported for Android will be the RMI Alchemy processor family, a system-on-a-chip design, with a memory and hard drive controller as well as LCD controller and camera module. It is used in GPS systems and handheld media players.
In addition to porting the Dalvik virtual machine to MIPS, Embedded Alley will also extend the Android bionic library and linker support to accommodate MIPS architecture, offer a testing board for testing out applications, and add support for MIPS in the Android Software Development Kit (SDK).
Embedded Alley's SDK will be available for Android developers beginning in May.