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MIPS: Android effort is processor-neutral

Posted: 06 Apr 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Android anti-fragmentation  Android OS  ARM-based Android 

Art Swift, MIPS' VP of business development and marketing, disclosed in a blog posted on March 31 that Google Inc. has invited the processor intellectual property licensor as well as other companies to take part in its Android anti-fragmentation programme.

Swift reacted to reports that Google was considering standardising its Android OS on the ARM architecture (see: Google, ARM discuss Android standardisation). In the blog Swift states that reports had been misleading in that they suggested Android anti-fragmentation moves would only focus on the ARM architecture and had implied they would be exclusive of other processor architectures.

Swift also added that Google's moves continue to be architecture-neutral and that there is an Android Native Development Kit (NDK) for every major processor architecture that supports Android, including those from MIPS, Intel and ARM.

The MIPS executive goes on to say that anti-fragmentation efforts, as well as being inclusive of MIPS, Intel and ARM, are necessary because fragmentation has started to happen within the ARM-based Android community.

Swift argues that ARM, rather than being the solution to fragmentation among Android platforms, is part of the problem because of the variations of the ARM instruction set architecture implemented by silicon vendors. Swift states that while some Android applications run on one ARM-based vendor's silicon, they do not necessarily run on another vendor's ARM-based silicon. "Google's anti-fragmentation programme is intended to remedy this situation as Android moves forward," said Swift.

According to Swift, platform certification is part of the "anti-fragmentation" programme and that OEMs, silicon vendors and architectural licensees are being asked to sign an anti-fragmentation agreement.

"As a part of Google's anti-fragmentation efforts, each processor vendor—including ARM, MIPS and Intel—must sign the Android anti-fragmentation clause to gain early access to sources in the future. And Google has defined a standard set of Android interfaces that work across all processor architectures—including those from ARM, Intel and MIPS—with the aim of maintaining application compatibility and portability."

In the blog Swift states: "Google invited MIPS to participate. We are currently in discussions with Google regarding the anti-fragmentation agreement. MIPS has also made its NDK/application binary interface available to Google and is working with Google to have that included as part of the Android tool chain. MIPS is also in discussions with Google for future early source access."

- Peter Clarke
  EE Times

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