ARM Opens Android Solutions Center

Chip designer ARM is opening the online Solution Center for Android to help designers and developers more easily build ARM-based devices running the Android operating system and software stack. ARM officials say OEMs are developing for Android-most recently, Dell, Acer and Motorola have announced new smartphones running the OS-but they also are looking for solutions that will help them in their work. The Solution Center for Android will offer various developer tools, software components and turnkey solutions.

ARM, which designs the processors used in many of the world's handheld devices and other consumer electronics, is now opening a resource center for designers and developers building ARM-powered products that run on the Android operating system.

ARM on Nov. 17 announced its Solution Center for Android, an online resource that offers everything from developer guides, tools and software components to videos, blogs and demos, in an effort to help designers build products for the open-source OS.

"We're trying to be a great resource for people looking to develop devices," said James Bruce, wireless segment manager for ARM. "This is a hub to highlight resources."

ARM designs the chips that can be found in most handheld connected devices, such as Apple's iPhone, Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm and the Droid from Motorola. Most recently, Android was used to run the Droid and Acer's Liquid smartphone. It was initially written for the ARM architecture, Bruce said.

In addition, Dell in November announced it is planning to roll out an Android-based smartphone, the Mini 3, to initially be sold in China and Brazil before the end of 2009.

Android can also be found in such devices as digital picture frames and the burgeoning netbook segment.

Android 2.0 was launched on ARM's Cortex-A processor designs, according to ARM officials.

The introduction of Android was a turning point for designers and developers, Bruce said. In the past, OEMs could either build their own software stacks on top of an operating system or buy an off-the-shelf software stack, such as Microsoft's Windows Mobile or Symbian. Now, OEMs only have to go to Google and download an entire software stack, he said.

The challenge now is getting the necessary help and tools to take advantage of Android. That's where the Solution Center for Android comes in.

Currently, more than 35 members of the ARM Connected Community have joined the company's initiative. Members include America Megatrends, Incube Solutions, iWave Systems, LSF Design, Mistral Solutions, Texas Instruments, VirtualLogix and Wipro Technologies. ARM silicon partners that are contributing include Nvidia, Broadcom and Qualcomm.

ARM also is offering low-cost development boards, including the $150 Beagle Board with Cortex-A8.

The Solution Center for Android can be found here.