Intel preps ARM-to-x86 porting tool for iOS apps
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Intel has said it is developing software to make it easier to port iOS applications to other mobile operating systems - in particular, MeeGo, the mobile OS favoured by the chip giant.
Doug Fisher, Intel's senior software guy, didn't say when the utility will appear, IDG reports.
In an interview with the news service, Fisher said the tool will highlight some of the changes - different system calls and suchlike - developers need to make to their iOS apps to recompile them successfully on an x86 processor.
iOS devices use ARM chippery and it's not compatible with Intel's silicon.
iOS apps are typically coded in Objective C and tie themselves into the operating system by relying on the services it provides. A fair few iOS system calls can surely be paired with MeeGo equivalents, but plenty of others may not be. So-called "universal" iOS apps can even contain separate binaries and resources for iPhones and iPads.
That said, Objective C's modular Model-View-Controller software design ethic should aid porting by separating out data manipulation code from the routines that handle the UI and user interaction.
Intel is keen to get developers creating apps for it Atom CPU, whether the programs will run under MeeGo or Windows. Last month, it opened its online AppUp applications store to the public. ®
API-to-API, not ARM-x86
Surely this needs to be more about porting to different API's not a different CPU.The iOS development tools already happily build for i386 - the iPhone/iPad simulator runs code natively on the development machine (which must be a Mac with an Intel CPU).
Porting across to a different OS and an UI framework is where the fun is going to be. If the app in question is a game which takes over the display and does its own thing, that's probably not too much of an issue. If, however, its a utility which is displaying everything using Cocoa touch, maybe using Core Data on the backend, you'll probably have an easier time starting from scratch...
I'd rather have an x86-to-ARM porting tool. For so many reasons.
What, x86 not compatible with ARM???
It's interesting to see x86 on the wrong side of compatibility for a change... Intel had better get used to this, or forget about the mobile/netbook market altogether.
@AC: x86 (and especially x64) codesize is indeed far larger than Thumb-2, but not enough to matter for a smart phone/netbook. Flash is so cheap that needing a few GB extra is no problem, and the extra power required for this is small. Power consumption and performance (at low power) is the main thing x86 is very bad at - the latest ARM cores like Cortex-A9 thrash Atom on both. This inefficiency of x86 is not something Intel is able to work around, despite a huge advantage in process technology.
Making MeeGo apps cross architecture?
Wouldn't this be more about taking MeeGo apps from ARM based smart phones and getting the same binaries to run on the Intel based netbooks (which would have faster processors / more memory / etc)?
And the Apple slant was purely because it was reported on MacWorld?
"Though I see no technical reason why an x86 or AMD64 design in the same league as the ARM's power efficiency is not possible. The transistor overhead due to the extra instructions should be small at modern manufacturing scales."
An x86 chip has to be several orders of magnitude more complex than an ARM in order to both support translating the hideous legacy x86 instructions in to something a modern processor can execute efficiently, plus the huge amount of baggage from the various instruction set extensions which have built up over the years.
On the same physical process each part of the chip can be just as power efficient as an ARM, but there is always going to be more parts of the x86 to power.