Devices running Intel’s Silvermont hardware should be able to leverage a 64-bit Android kernel.
Intel isn’t waiting for Google to bring the 64-bit architecture to Android. During the Consumer Electronics Show, Intel had announced that it was working on a 64-bit version of Android KitKat.
Hermann Eul, Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications unit, announced today that the work on the Android kernel is finished, and that manufacturers should be able to utilize the 64-bit architecture on devices that feature Intel’s latest Silvermont hardware. He said, “We don’t want partners to be held up by” Google’s delay in launching a 64-bit Android codebase. “And when Google does provide that, partners can just slot that code into place” on Merrifield systems.
What this essentially means that the hardware drivers are now 64-bit, but the other Android functions, like the Android run-times (Dalvik and ART), libraries and frameworks are still 32-bit.
Intel has announced that the first tablets that feature 64-bit Android kernel and Bay Trail processor should debut later this year for as low as $150. Intel has two families that are based on the 22nm Silvermont microarchitecture. The first is Bay Trail, which will be used in tablets, and the other is Merrifield.
Work is already underway at Intel on the successors of Bay Trail and Merrifield. Bay Trail will transition into Cherry Trail, which will be built on a 14nm manufacturing process. Merrifield will transition into Moorefield, and will retain the 22nm manufacturing but feature four cores instead of two.
Benchmarks of Bay Trail have been promising, but we can only determine how good the processer is in normal usage after the first Bay Trail mobile launches. Intel is targeting the Mobile World Congress to showcase Bay Trail hardware.