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Intel Releases 64-bit Kernel for Android 4.4

Intel, still somehow hovering around the Android space, announced last night that they have released a 64-bit kernel for Android 4.4 (Kit Kat). Since Kit Kat doesn’t natively support 64-bit hardware just yet, this gives manufacturers who want to start to dabble in devices with 64-bit chips a chance to. Well, assuming they want to go with Intel. 

Here is the note from the company’s press release on the matter:

Intel also released Android KitKat 4.4 with a 64-bit kernel optimized for IA. With this release, the company ported, validated and tested the Android Open Source code on IA, taking on the work that developers typically would need to do on their own. This release will provide the ecosystem with 64-bit kernel support for development of next-generation devices. Fisher said Intel will regularly make Android code for IA available as part of the company’s effort to speed up the device development process and improve quality.

And, yep.

Via:  Intel | CNET
  • Jee

    Intel is trying very hard to stay relevant in the mobile space.

  • Shawn John

    Stick with Qualcomm for the high end phones, and use Intel for the new $50 Android phones google is about to introduce.

  • Coinmanmat

    Its only a matter of time till Google bakes 64 bit support into Android

  • Shawn John

    It’s safe to say Android 5.0 will be a 64bit OS, this is really impressive to witness before it’s all said and done we will eventually be walking around with IBM Watson type phone processors…Mankind will get dumber as people will stop thinking and start relying on their OS’s AI.

  • David Rhiley

    Interesting that your article would bring a negative tone to a manufacturer trying to push Android further down the road. I would assume that you want Google to push this, but the kernel level development has always come from the chip makers. That is why the Nvidia HTX One X+ and One X will never get Kit Kat. Not because HTC doesn’t want to, but because Nvidia won’t put the resources into getting the software running on that chip set.

    So please bash Intel for working on this…

    • Adrynalyne

      OEMs build their own kernels. SoC makers provide binaries and some kernel code. It is the OEM that builds the kernel and customizes most of it though.

      For what its worth, I saw no bashing.

      • panicswhenubered

        I think he was referring to the snarky comments; “still somehow hovering around the Android space” and “Well, assuming they want to go with Intel.”

        • Adrynalyne

          Thats just stating the truth, and not really a bash IMO. Intel has made little effort to make headway into the Android world.

          In fact, past them smack talking about how they are more efficient than Qualcomm, TI, and the likes, we saw little from them. Only no-name manufacturers picked up on Intel, and Intel made a half-hearted attempt anyway.

          Intel could make it big, but they need to put more effort into it.

          Intel reminds me of HTC. They can do great things but aren’t putting their heart into it.

          Of course, Intel has something to fall back upon, unlike HTC.

          • panicswhenubered

            It’s snarky.

          • Adrynalyne

            Yep, it is. At least it brings up a good point. How can we care if Intel has given literally nobody a reason to use them?

            I for one would rather see x86 phones over ARM but Intel needs to raise the bar and provide a good reason for companies to abandon ARM.

          • Alan

            One thing is that they provide open source drivers and actually update them to be compatible with newer Linux kernels and hence also for newer Android versions. ARM vendors pretty much tell OEMs “Too bad, no more Android updates for your phone. Hey, buy our new chip.”

          • Adrynalyne

            I don’t disagree, but Intel needs to win over OEMs. No amount of Android contributions, or open source achievements is going to do that.

          • Jeff

            Did you know that Intel’s Open Source Technology Center is one of the major contributors to the Android source? Check out: http://www.01.org/

          • asdo

            I find it funny that so many people who talk about opening up their Android device so they can do whatever they want with it are bashing Intel and praising ARM vendors. Qualcomm, NVIDIA and the rest of the ARM vendors are famous for not opening up and keeping everything hidden. Whereas Intel has been providing open source drivers for the their chips (CPU, GPU, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.) for Linux for years.

            Now that Intel is actually one of the few vendors out there significantly contributing to Android to support their hardware and also patch other things in Android, people are still saying they’re not doing enough. Meanwhile, there aren’t a whole lot of code commits to Android’s mainline source tree from ARM vendors…

          • Adrynalyne

            That doesn’t help spread their CPUs to Android devices. So really we go back to the same issue.

            Did you know Sony is a major contributor? Yet they have no influence on the market.

          • paktu

            Yes it does. By making it easier to run on an Intel SoC, OEMs may use their chip over ARM. Also, for the custom ROM crowd, being able to support newer Linux kernels because Intel is updating their drivers can make them choose an Intel Android tablet over an ARM one. When Intel compeletely gets rid of PowerVR GPUs and use their in-house GPUs (with well supported open source drivers) on all their SoCs then I’ll definitely choose an Intel device over an ARM one.

          • Adrynalyne

            No it doesn’t.

            Otherwise we would see some big names using Intel. We haven’t, and I don’t expect to in the near future.

          • dizi98

            It’s only starting now. Bay Trail didn’t come out very long ago. I guess since I’ve worked on hardware and software, I know the kind of time it takes. However, Intel has been making siginficant contributions to Android and their mainlined open source drivers. This is big in the long run once the infastructure has been put in place and Intel maintains it.

            Personally, I’ve used ARM SBCs and they’re a pain to deal with due to all the proprietary drivers that never get updated to support newer Linux kernels. Once I start seeing Bay Trail based SBCs, I’ll be switching to them and ditch ARM. I won’t be looking back.

          • Adrynalyne

            I’m talking in general. Intel has been at it since 2011 with Android.

          • dizi98

            Proof on the Sony comment? Or at least some self-proclaimed thing by Sony?

            As a Linux user, I know how well Intel supports their hardware with open source drivers and contributing code to upstream software. ARM vendors rarely do this and close off as much as they can. I definitely would get an Intel Android tablet right now. I’ll get an Intel powered Android phone when they stop using closed off Imagination Technologies GPUs in their smartphone SoCs.

          • Adrynalyne

            I don’t have the exact comment I read on Google+, but JBQ said it, and I believe that over any blogger.

            Someone wrote about it here.


          • Adrynalyne

            Found it:

            “Since Sony has been contributing a lot to the Android Open Source Project, they have fewer changes that they need to maintain on their own: those changes of theirs are already there when the source code is first released. That’s probably one of the reasons why they could get done faster: the work they did preparing those contributions gave them a head start. I don’t think that any other manufacturer has been contributing nearly as much as Sony did, so everyone else is now going to have to play catch-up.”



          • dizi98

            Thanks! That’s good to know. I’ll try to make my next smartphone this year a Sony one.

          • Adrynalyne

            I wouldn’t mind one. Sadly, Sony and Verizon…not a great mix.

          • Kevin Bay

            Thanks! I didn’t know this. I will be importing one of the new Sony devices for use on AT&T then unless you know of any info that HTC or Samsung are big Android contributors as well. Maybe next year, I’ll get a Sony device running on a hopefully open Intel chip.

          • jdw

            yes BUT…because they came so late to the android game their push is NOT for x86 like they state as much
            as it’s for ONLY NEWER x86….so it’s a little deceptive…..if you got a machine/tablet/intel smart phone
            that doesn’t have a x86 chip built since about 2011…good luck…they don’t support it on android…..

            it’s all about marketing and catching up to arm……

  • Dominik Rozek

    There is a android 4.3 BSP for Intel Bay Trail out, looking forward to looking at it tonight.

  • evilfatcow

    I know the next step in progression is to move for 32 bit to 64 bit but do we necessarily need it? If someone could explain the advantages/disadvantages of it, that’d be great. Like would it eat more battery for processing power, would it really make your phone faster? Moto X has an older processor and it’s still smooth. Even in the iPhone 5s, I’ve heard problems or lag still, abide the RAM. I thought i read somewhere that with 64 bit, it’s really effective with at least 4GB of RAM, with computers anyways. Can anyone educate me?

    • Adrynalyne

      Its also useful for large calculations, but the reality is like you stated: We don’t really need it. That said we will be prepared when (not if) we move to 4+GB of RAM.

    • The Narrator

      Because Apple did it

      • Buzz

        Actually I think it was just the chip set. I could be wrong but I dont think iOS uses a 64 bit kernel, only a processor architecture. Again could be wrong though.

        Edit: never mind I’m an idiot. Forgot the 5s used 64 bit kernel. Carry on.

    • nosedive94

      The iPhone doesn’t take full advantage of its processor. App devs also haven’t optimized their apps for it. With a kernel that takes advantage of it and apps which do the same, it would be much more power efficient and way faster.

    • Joe

      Seeing that these SoCs aren’t just used in smartphones, 4+ GB of RAM can be useful. For example, I have a pico-ITX sized Intel Atom board I use for a DIY NAS. NAS’s can always use more RAM. Then there are people who use these SoCs for embedded products that can make use of more RAM and 64-bit processing. If your application can make a lot of use of 64-bit processing (mostly scientific and server type tasks) then it’ll make these applications faster. This could result in less power consumption.

      Now, for a phone, 64-bit processing isn’t likely to help much so it’s really all about the RAM. As Android, other mobile OS’s and apps evolve, they will eventually require more memory despite being heavily optimized. You can only add so many features before requiring more resources. There’s no point in stagnating technology development until there’s an immediate need. That just slows technology down.

      Also, in the Linux kernel, memory management is a lot more efficient with 64-bit kernels once you get past 2-3 GB (note that’s below the 4 GB limit of 32-bit). This efficiency likely won’t mean much right now but, as said eariler, as software evolves to need more memory, it’ll become more useful.

      • evilfatcow

        Hey thanks for the reply! Definitely interesting. I was thinking that they’re future proofing it but honestly by the time it’s utilized, I think we’ll all have new phones.

        • Mark

          Ya, it’s not for future proofing existing phones. It’s for putting the hooks in now so when 64-bit and 4+ GB of RAM is actually needed, they won’t have a huge lead time in providing it and possibly get left behind by other OEMs.

          Technology development often invloves trying to figure out what will be needed/wanted in the future and having it ready when the time comes. If a company only starts developing something as a reaction to existing issues, it may be too late for them. Of course, predictions could be wrong and whatever is developed may be thrown away.

  • Prox

    I like Intel products, I like competition better.