Google's Agnilux Play Is About the Google Tablet After All

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-04-22 Print this article Print

Yesterday, I published this brief piece about Google's acquisition of a startup called Agnilux.

Little is known about the stealth company, whose founders created the A4 chip Apple uses in its iPad, before leaving for smaller pastures. These founders, according to the New York Times, joined Apple by way of PA Semi and left unhappy.

The Times and others believed Agnilux made servers, server chips, or at least something to do with computing for the love of all things high-tech.

In trying to divine what Google would want with the company, I suggested that perhaps Google wanted to plumb the minds of the engineers to build a chip for its alleged Android tablet:

Perhaps Agnilux has made a technological breakthrough in server processing, something major along the lines of what PeakStream provided for Google when the company acquired it to boost its application processing.

It could be that Google will take the chip work Agnilux has done and use it as the processing engine for a possible tablet. Remember, these Agnilux engineers did make the A4 powering the iPad and possibly the forthcoming iPhone 4 chip.

It seems I was right about the tablet connection between Google and Agnilux, but off base on the methodology, which I thought was hardware-based.

I believed Google bought Agnilux so its programmers could make a special chip for the Google tablet, allegedly based on Android and not Chrome Operating System.

The Times, advancing its original coverage of Agnilux April 21, cited a source who claimed: "It's not chip design. It's getting software platforms to work on different kinds of hardware with lots of obscure back-end technologies." .

Specifically, this source told the Times that Google "acquired the firm not for silicon expertise or to build actual hardware, but for help with porting Google platforms like its Chrome and Android operating systems onto other devices - like tablets, or possibly even television set-top boxes.

The set-top box angle is intriguing because it points to another rumored play, Google TV, in which the company is trying to make our plasmas another computer from which to surf the Web and watch YouTube.

Another source told the Times Agnilux's technology could help Google run its software platforms on tablets "without draining the battery," which is pretty much what these guys did for the iPad with the A4 chip.

This seems completely plausible and that's why the Agnilux buy lends credence to the notion that a Google tablet is in the works.

Agnilux could be one of those foundational technologies on which Google rests its mobile Web device and platform strategy versus Apple, whose iPhone is entrenched and whose new iPad is strong and growing stronger.

Maybe we'll look back at this quiet, innocuous-seeming buy and say Agnilux did for Google what its engineers did for Apple as employees of PA Semi. |

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