Nokia to develop Intel-based pocket internet gadgets
Pair to pool Linux resources
Intel and Nokia will jointly develop x86 CPUs, chipsets and a "user-friendly pocketable" internet access device to put the parts in, the two giants said today.
The new platform will go "beyond today’s smartphones, notebooks and netbooks", they proclaimed. But to us it sounds a lot like the Mobile Internet Device (MID) notion that Intel has touted for the last 18 months or so.
Nokia has already delivered the MID concept through a range of Internet Tablets, most recently the N810, launched more than a year ago to a positive crit but not mass consumer demand.
But the N810 is based on ARM chippery - so of course Intel can't acknowledge Nokia's leadership here.
Until now. Like Nokia, Intel is keen on Linux, initiating the development of Moblin, a distro for netbooks and MIDs. Nokia's own Linux tablet OS is Maemo, and the two companies today said they will "develop common technologies for use in the Moblin and Maemo platform projects" which will feed into future mobile computing devices.
The companies expect "many innovations" to result from this collaboration over time.
Moblin targets Intel's Atom, so it's a good bet that chip will be the foundation for future Nokia offerings, though the Finnish phone firm stopped short of directly committing itself to Atom-based gadgetry.
Not so Intel, which will use Nokia HSDPA/HSUPA 3G modem technology in future products that "supplement" its Wi-Fi and WiMax adaptors. Ironically, it once persuaded Nokia to offer this kind of kit for Centrino laptops, but, six months later, the two admitted it wasn't going to happen after all.
Will this new long term alliance be equally short-lived? ®
You'll be pleased as pie when the N900 comes out then...
The sole advantage of x86 ...
... is the ability to run desktop Windows applications natively, either under Windows or Linux (using Wine). ARM needs emulation to handle this.
Whether this is important enough to accept a higher price and considerably higher power use is up to individual users. For me, it isn't: The only Windows programs I regularly use that have no direct equivalents on Linux are games.
"150MHz x86, ethernet, USB host, etc. all at under 1W."
150MHz is not very much, so not really comparable to Atom or modern ARM SoCs. If you want to compare power usage, do so for chips with similar specifications or compare specifications of chips with similar power use.
For example, TI's OMAP3 processor uses 750 mW maximum, but is much more powerful than what you describe: 800MHz ARM Cortex-A8, three media processors and lots of connectivity.
Because iPhones (in smartphone sense) are:
- not smart enough
- rubbish on battery - even worse if you need 3G on 24/7
- locked in to operators
- illegal to hack
- not enough decent software (I don't need it to calculate how to split the bill :-P)
- WAY too expensive
... etc, etc.
n810 can now be picked up for around £160, so there is no point having "netbook" or eBook reader for that matter.
x86-compatible architectures don't have to be power hogs...
... RDC in Taiwan have been making low-power x86-architecture CPUs for a while now, and they are actually quite impressive. You can get yourself a Bifferboard that uses one for less than 30 quid and see for yourself - 150MHz x86, ethernet, USB host, etc. all at under 1W.
Compared with the ARM instruction set and architecture in general, the x86 is an inelegant pile of crap, but don't be blinkered by thinking that small-cheap-fast can't be done with x86 - it clearly can.