Intel is rolling out a set of tools that will enable programmers to accelerate their development of Android apps for mobile devices powered by either Intel or ARM chips.
The development environment, called Beacon Mountain 0.5, is the latest move by Intel to make greater inroads into the booming smartphone and tablet markets, and also highlights the increasing significance of the chip maker’s software business in its future plans.
“The Android suite provides the tools you need to design, code, debug and accelerate application development,” Intel engineer Steven LaBelle said in an online video on the Intel Website announcing Beacon Mountain. “It helps shorten your development cycle by enabling applications and components created using it to support both Intel Atom- and ARM-based devices.”
Intel’s x86-based chips run most PCs and servers, but PC sales are falling as more consumers and business users turn their attention and tech dollars to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, while mainstream server sales continue to grow, but slowly. In response, Intel officials are looking to expand the company’s reach into such areas as mobile devices, software and microservers.
The bulk of smartphones and tablets run on systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) designed by ARM and made by Samsung, Qualcomm, Nvidia and others. Intel is trying to position its low-power Atom platform as an alternative, with executives noting that there are about a dozen Intel-powered smartphones being sold in overseas markets. They are expecting upcoming Atom SoCs, based on the new “Silvermont” microarchitecture, to accelerate the number of Intel-based smartphones and tablets on the market.
The Atom platform supports both Google’s Android mobile OS and Microsoft’s Windows. A key factor in the mobile device space is the mobile applications that run on the smartphones and tablets. With Beacon Mountain, Intel is looking to more quickly grow the number of Google apps that can run on Intel-based devices.
The Beacon Mountain 0.5 tools currently support Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and above, and 64-bit Windows 7 and 8 operating systems. The suite will support Apple’s Mac OS X in future versions, according to Intel’s LaBelle.
The portfolio supports a range of Intel and third-party tools, according to the company. Among the Intel tools are Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager, Graphics Performance Analyzers System Analyzer, Integrated Performance Primitives, Threaded Building Blocks and Intel Software Manager. The third-party tools include Google’s Android software development kit (SDK), Android native development kit (NDK) and Android Design, and the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) and Cygwin, a Linux-like environment for Windows.
In November 2012, eight-year Intel CEO Paul Otellini said he was retiring, a decision that sparked industrywide debate over whether the chip maker was better off once again choosing a CEO from its own ranks or for the first time finding a top executive from the outside who could bring in a fresh perspective and accelerate its efforts in such areas as mobile technology and software.
The selection of Intel COO Brian Krzanich did little to quell the debate, though he did say that the mobile device market would be a focus of his. At the same time as Krzanich’s promotion, Renee James, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Software and Services Group, was named president, raising the profile of software within the company.
During James’ tenure overseeing software, Intel made several significant acquisitions in the space, including McAfee and Wind River.